New York, Los Angeles and Chicago are considering adding e-cigarettes to their public smoking bans. Public health officials in those cities say the devices are harmful and can be a gateway to smoking regular cigarettes, The Wall Street Journal reports.
New York’s City Council is scheduled to vote today on the e-cigarette ban. If passed, e-cigarettes would be prohibited in public places including restaurants, bars, stores and some parks. Legislators in Los Angeles and Chicago could vote on e-cigarette bans as early as January.
Supporters of e-cigarettes say they can help smokers quit, and that there is no evidence vapors produced by the devices are toxic. Many scientists say e-cigarettes are less harmful than regular cigarettes.
Critics of the devices say secondhand vapor is a pollutant, and e-cigarettes can get more people addicted to nicotine. “There are reasonable concerns and reasons for folding them into the existing clean-air framework for cigarettes,” Tim McAfee, Director of the Office on Smoking and Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the newspaper.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will propose rules on regulating e-cigarettes. The FDA is expected to consider e-cigarettes as tobacco products, which will allow the agency to provide the same federal oversight that applies to cigarettes, chewing tobacco, cigarette tobacco, and roll-your-own tobacco. E-cigarettes could be subjected to the same requirements for disclosure of ingredients, manufacturing quality and restrictions on sales to minors that apply to regular cigarettes. The article notes the FDA proposal is expected to be published in coming weeks.
A study published earlier this week suggests people who use e-cigarettes indoors may be exposing the people around them to nicotine. The amount of secondhand nicotine exposure from e-cigarettes is much smaller than from traditional cigarettes, the researchers concluded.