Electronic Cigarette Ban NYCSome Albany lawmakers are patting themselves on the back as they draft legislation that will ban e-cigs in the same places where cigarettes are banned throughout New York State. But before they begin congratulating themselves on how brilliant they are, I suggest that they take a closer look at what exactly they are doing.

New York City banned e-cigs and is now facing a lawsuit brought by Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment, a group led by Audrey Silk, a onetime candidate for Mayor. Read article here

It seems that the New York City Council and former Mayor Michael Bloomberg may have over reached by placing the language of this ban as an amendment to the “Smoke-free Air Act” adopted in 2002.

Local Law 47, the summary of which is found here was signed into law on December 30, 2002. The Act makes virtually all workplaces in the City of New York smoke-free, including many places where smoking had previously been permitted. All work sites are required to develop, distribute and post their smoke-free policy, in accordance with the law, which became effective on March 30, 2003.

It goes on to say that the law is needed because tobacco use is the leading epidemic of our time, killing more than 440,000 people nationwide each year. In 2002, approximately 1,000 New Yorkers died because of exposure to second-hand smoke. As a result of passage of the SFAA of 2002, 150,000 fewer New Yorkers are exposed to second-hand smoke. As of 2006, more than a dozen states, including New York State, have implemented comprehensive smoke free air laws banning smoking in most workplaces, including restaurants and bars.

They produced a very good argument against smoke, both first and secondhand, which has been the subject of studies for years – the result of which has demonstrated that if you breath smoke you may be at risk for contracting cancer. However, the act of puffing on an e-cig does not produce smoke – it produces vapor and vapor has not been found to be harmful to anyone. In fact, the chemicals contained in e-cigs are the same chemicals contained in mouth wash, toothpaste and asthma inhalers.

E-cigs are fairly new to the market and therefore have not been studied thoroughly by health experts. To say that we don’t know a lot about them is fair, but to liken e-cigs to regular cigarettes is totally misguided. Worse yet, to lump e-cigs into the category of regular cigarettes can be potentially harmful to the millions of Americans who are using e-cigs as a way to quit smoking.

Smoking cessation products have been on the market for years yet none have actually damaged tobacco sales. E-cigs have been on the market for 7 years and already we are seeing them cut into the $100 billion annual sales of the tobacco industry. Clearly, e-cigs are actually working to help people stop smoking. Even more encouraging is a report by the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Adolescent Health that teenage smoking has dropped by more than 4% since the e-cig was introduced in America.

Finally we have found a product that is doing damage to the tobacco industry and lawmakers are trying to ban it because they don’t know enough about it. Lawmakers have been pushing to get Americans to stop smoking by using health studies and statistics as a reason to raise taxes on the product so that they become unaffordable. They have also used taxpayer dollars to provide smokers with smoking cessation devices such as patches, gum and pills. Unfortunately none of those smoking cessation devices have been able to help smokers quit in a meaningful way. I know because I tried them all and failed time and again. It wasn’t until I tried an e-cig that I was able to quit and to stay quit.

Could it be that lawmakers are worried that if Americans truly do quit cigarettes the exorbitant taxes that are being collected from the $100 billion annual tobacco sales will dry up and the cash flow for pet projects will dry up?

It may sound farfetched, but I can’t think of any other reason why a lawmaker would try to end the use of e-cigs when they are proving themselves to be a successful means toward the goal of a non-smoking America – unless the goal is a false one.

To Albany legislators I simply say, “Think before you ban e-cigs. America is watching and we are smarter than you may think.”

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