By MICHAEL R. SISAK
NEW YORK (AP) Laws in New York and Chicago making electronic cigarettes subject to the same regulations as tobacco are taking effect, and their sellers and users are steadfast in their opposition.
The New York law along with the measure in Chicago, one that previously went into effect in Los Angeles and federal regulations proposed last week are keeping debate smoldering among public health officials, the e cigarette industry and users.
Proponents of the regulations, which began Tuesday, say they are aimed at preventing the re acceptance of smoking as a societal norm, particularly among teenagers who could see the tobacco free electronic cigarettes, with their candy like flavorings and celebrity endorsers, as a gateway to cancer causing tobacco products.
Dr. Thomas Farley, the New York City health commissioner under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, says allowing electronic cigarettes in bars and restaurants would undermine existing restrictions on tobacco based products.
The law would prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes in restaurants, bars and other public places, just as regular cigarettes are not allowed.
“Imagine for a moment you' re at a bar and there are 20 people who are puffing on something that looks like a cigarette and then somebody smells something that smells like tobacco smoke,” Farley says. “How' s the bartender going to know who to tap on the shoulder and say, ' Put that out' ?”
Makers of the devices say marketing them as e cigarettes has confused lawmakers into thinking they are the same as tobacco based cigarettes. They say the new regulations ostracize people who want an alternative to tobacco products and will be especially hard on ex smokers who are being lumped into the same smoking areas as tobacco users.
Their defenders also say they' re a good way to quit tobacco, even though science is murky on the claim.
Peter Denholtz, the chief executive and co founder of the Henley Vaporium in Manhattan, says electronic cigarettes “could be the greatest invention of our lifetime in terms of saving lives” by moving smokers away from traditional cigarettes.
“This law just discourages that,” he says.
Chris Jehly, a 31 year old Brooklyn resident, also defends the devices as a vehicle for quitting.
“The tougher they' re going to make it on vapers, the tougher it is people are going to find an actual vehicle for quitting or as a supplement to cigarettes,” Jehly says from his perch at the counter at Henley. “There' s no need for it. This is working so much better than patches or gum or prescription drugs.”
Robin Koval, chief executive of the anti smoking Legacy Foundation, says that while ingredients in electronic cigarettes are not as harmful as those in tobacco products, they are still a concern because they contain highly addictive nicotine. The National Institutes of Health says users could expose themselves to toxic levels of nicotine while refilling the devices or even use them to smoke other substances.
Since little evidence exists on the effect of the devices on smoking whether as an aid in quitting, a gateway for non smokers or a bridge to keep smokers hooked longer she says she favors a legislative approach that balances public health with the development of safer alternatives.
“The right way forward will be a way that promotes innovation that helps us do everything we possibly can to get combustible tobacco to be history,” Koval says. “We want a generation of Americans where, for them, cigarettes are a thing of the past an artifact like a roll of film or a rotary telephone.”
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Los angeles moves to ban e-cigarettes, joining ny, others
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) The Los Angeles City Council voted on Tuesday to ban the use of electronic cigarettes, also known as “vaping,” from restaurants, bars, nightclubs and other public spaces in the nation’s second largest city.
A spokeswoman for Mayor Eric Garcetti confirmed to Reuters that he would sign the measure into law in the coming days.
When he does, Los Angeles will join a growing list of cities, including New York, Boston and Chicago, that restrict the use of e cigarettes, which are battery powered cartridges filled with liquid nicotine that creates an inhalable vapor when heated.
At stake is the future of an industry that some analysts believe will eventually overtake the $80 billion a year tobacco business.
Public health experts fear that vaping, which has recently gained popularity among teens and young adults, may serve as a gateway to smoking for the uninitiated.
Critics also point to potential harm posed from second hand vapor from e cigarettes, saying too little is known about the effects of the chemicals contained in the cartridges.
“We have an obligation to protect the workforce from the effects of secondhand aerosol exhaled by people who choose to ‘vape’ on e cigarettes,” said City Council member Mitch O’Farrell, who co sponsored the proposal.
“We also have a responsibility to protect our youth and everyone else in public places from the carcinogens found in the ultra fine particles in e cigarette aerosol,” he said.
The proposal was opposed by the makers of e cigarettes, who pitch their product as a safer alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes and say there is no evidence that second hand vape smoke is harmful. Advocates of e cigarettes also say they can help smokers kick the habit.
FDA MAY WEIGH IN
The Los Angeles ban differs from restrictions in other major cities in that it was amended to allow vaping in lounges and e cigarette stores and for filming or theatrical purposes.
“Although we believe the final decision was made in the absence of credible science, it was a more reasonable and sensible approach than the original proposal,” NJOY, the largest independent maker of e cigarettes, said in a written statement.
“NJOY remains concerned, however, that banning e cigarette use in public places could deter current tobacco smokers from using the products and thus disserves public health,” the company said.
The City Council action comes as the U.S. government is contemplating further regulations at the national level.
The Food and Drug Administration has already proposed a rule that would bring e cigarettes under its jurisdiction and could potentially require companies to register and pay fees, list the ingredients in their products, obtain approval for new products and restrict online sales and marketing to children.
A law passed in 2009 gave the FDA the authority to regulate cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and roll your own tobacco.
It also gave the agency the power to deem other tobacco products to be within its jurisdiction, but it must first issue a rule to that effect.
E cigarette companies believe they should be exempt from the full spectrum of regulations, saying that would stifle innovation, damage small business and hurt consumers trying to quit smoking.
Tobacco company Lorillard Inc, the owner of the blu e cigarette brand, is the dominant player in the field, followed by privately held NJOY and LOGIC Technology. The three account for an estimated 80 percent of the market.
(Reporting by Steve Gorman and Dan Whitcomb Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Meredith Mazzilli, Ken Wills and Jan Paschal)