SEATTLE, March 5 (UPI) -- On Tuesday the Los Angeles City Council voted to pass an ordinance that would restrict the use of e-cigarettes, banning them from restaurants, bars, nightclubs, parks and workplaces.
An e-cigarette, or vaporizer, is a device that uses jeweled heating to vaporize a solution of propylene glycol and liquid nicotine, allowing the user to inhale a vapor that is generally believed to be less harmful than the smoke produced by the combustion of traditional cigarettes.
The ordinance to restrict public "vaping" was introduced by Councilman Mitch O’Farrell and supported by City Attorney Mike Feuer and Councilmen Paul Koretz and Bernard Parks. The move follows similar restrictions in five states and the District of Columbia, including recent bans in New York City and Chicago. There was heated debate over the issue. Supporters of the law claim that the health effects of breathing the vapor secondhand are still not fully understood, and indeed, with such a new technology, the health effects of inhaling a vaporized mist of propylene glycol and nicotine in any manner have not yet been rigorously studied.
Proponents also cited fears that the trend in e-cigarettes would lead to an increase in nicotine consumption in young people and set back efforts to educate the public about the hazards of nicotine addiction.
Critics of the law claim that the vapor from e-cigarettes is a healthier alternative to smoke produced by combustion, and that banning e-cigarettes will hurt peoples’ efforts to ween off smoking traditional cigarettes by using e-cigarettes as a form of nicotine replacement therapy.
While the data on e-cigarettes is not yet in, the effects of inhaling traditional second hand smoke are well known to be harmful. And while this law may be aimed at protecting Angelinos’ health long term, e-cigarette users will now find themselves huddled together in outside smoking areas with all the analog smokers -- and the secondhand smoke that accompanies them.
In a blog post responding to the ban's proposal, Charles D. Connor, former president and CEO of the American Lung Association, wrote that such a ban would be "misguided because it would do a public health disservice, discouraging smokers from switching to less-harmful electronic cigarettes that do not combust tobacco and therefore, do not create second-hand smoke."
[LA Weekly] [Los Angeles Times] [Fox & Hounds]