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New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks during a news conference at City Hall in New York, September 18, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks during a news conference at City Hall in New York, September 18, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid  

The nanny isn’t finished: NYC regulates e-cigarettes

The Bloomberg administration recently demanded that New Yorkers to take their vape outside.

On Thursday, the New York City Council voted to ban the use of electronic cigarettes from public indoor spaces where smoking is already prohibited.

Soon-to-be-former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg strongly supported the legislation, believing that like traditional tobacco cigarettes, exposure to e-cigarettes posed a threat to public health.

Critics of the ban argue that making it more difficult for individuals to access and use e-cigarettes may actually have unintended consequences, including making it more difficult for tobacco users to curb their smoking habits.

E-cigarettes have taken the nicotine therapy market by storm in recent years. They have now surpassed the pharmaceutical industry’s market share of nicotine delivery products.

This is largely because taking a puff of an e-cigarette provides a similar experience as smoking a tobacco-filled paper cigarette. Mimicking the smoking experience has proven to be much more appealing to smokers than sticking a patch on their arm.

The widespread use of these modernized cigarettes, which is now a $3 billion industry, have caused alarm amongst some in the health community and in NYC’s Bloomberg Administration.

At an NYC City Council meeting in November, Thomas Farley, the city’s health commissioner, took to the floor and advocated stricter regulations on the device. He told the crowd that e-cigarettes could serve as a “bridge” to tobacco cigarettes.

Farley, along with the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, believe that e-cigarette companies deserve the same public lashing and stigmatization as tobacco cigarettes have suffered.

However, even Farley admitted there is not much scientific evidence proving e-cigarettes to be harmful. They “are so new we know very little about them,” he said at the hearing.

“The last thing you want the government to do is to say ‘I don’t know’ and then decide to regulate,” Craig Weiss, the president and CEO of the e-cigarette company NJOY told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “This is a nanny state approach.”

Some of the tobacco’s greatest foes have been vocal defenders of e-cigarettes.

Dr. Richard Carmona, the U.S. surgeon general under President George W. Bush, advocated for a complete ban of tobacco products, but now serves on the board of NJOY. Carmona explained that this move was a continuation in his fight against tobacco.

“Electronic cigarettes have the extraordinary potential to appeal to and satisfy the adult smoker, moving them away from tobacco cigarettes with their established harm profile,” he said.

Other doctors have cautioned that placing regulations on e-cigarettes could have dangerous repercussions. Dr. Gilbert Ross, executive director of the American Council on Science and Health, argued during the city council meeting that the proposed bill was “hyper-regulatory, and it really will accomplish nothing except to make other former smokers return to toxic cigarettes.”

During his time as mayor, Bloomberg regulated many substances he perceived to be unhealthy for the public. In October, the administration moved to raise the minimum age for customers who wish to purchase cigarettes, cigars and e-cigarettes to 21. Vendors who sell these items to underage customers could be fined up to $1,000 for a first offense, $2,000 for a second offense and could potentially lose their tobacco license.

The newly approved e-cigarette ban will go into effect in four months and restaurants will be given six months to hang up signs indicating that there is no “vaping” allowed.

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