(Deletes reference to Washington in eleventh paragraph)
By Curtis Skinner
NEW YORK Dec 19 The New York City Council on
Thursday will vote on a bill that would add electronic
cigarettes to the city's strict smoking ban, in the latest of
many anti-tobacco measures signed by outgoing Mayor Michael
Bloomberg's detractors have derided him for trying to impose
a "nanny state" in America's largest city, pointing to his bans
on smoking, trans fats and the attempt to limit the sale of
large sugary drinks. Public health advocates have applauded
those same efforts.
Only weeks after New York became the first major city to
raise the legal age for buying tobacco to 21, the City Council
will vote on a ban that would add electronic cigarettes to the
city's Smoke-Free Air Act.
If the bill passes, smoking e-cigarettes - or "vaping" -
would be prohibited at public and private venues such as
beaches, parks, restaurants and office buildings.
"While more research is needed on electronic cigarettes,
waiting to act could jeopardize the progress we have made over
the last few years," New York City Health Commissioner Thomas
Farley said at a city council hearing on the bill earlier this
E-cigarettes are slim, reusable metal tubes that contain
nicotine-laced liquid in a variety of exotic flavors such as
bubble gum and bacon. As a "smoker" puffs on the device, the
nicotine is heated and releases a vapor that, unlike cigarette
smoke, contains no tar, which is known to cause cancer and other
Critics of the law contend that such a ban would do more
harm than good.
Richard Carmona, a former U.S. Surgeon General and a current
board member at NJOY, one of America's largest electronic
cigarette manufacturers, sent a letter to the council recently
to urge rejection of the bill.
"I'm extremely concerned that a well-intentioned but
scientifically unsupported effort like the current proposal to
include electronic cigarettes in New York's current smoking ban,
could constitute a giant step backward in the effort to defeat
tobacco smoking," Carmona wrote.
The debate over risks versus benefits of e-cigarettes is far
from being settled, but a study published recently in the
British medical journal, The Lancet, said they are as effective
as nicotine patches for smokers trying to kick the habit.
Three states - Utah, North Dakota and New Jersey - have
already passed legislation banning e-cigarettes wherever smoking
(Reporting by Curtis Skinner; editing by Edith Honan and Gunna