The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to ban the use of electronic cigarettes in bars, nightclubs, restaurants and other public places where tobacco smoking is prohibited, the Los Angeles Daily News reports .
Residents will be restricted to only using the devices in vaping lounges and stores, but the use of e-cigarettes will also be permitted for “theatrical purposes.”
Councilman Joe Buscaino attempted to pass an amendment that would have allowed an exemption for bars, but it failed on an 8-6 vote.
City Attorney Mike Feurer will meet with council members to discuss the language of the regulation, and then e-cigarettes will be treated similarly under the law as regular cigarettes.
Sales of the electronic devices, which heat liquid nicotine and turn it into vapor, have exploded in the past year, amounting to $1.5 billion in 2013 alone.
For many, the device has been used as an alternative to tobacco smoking and a means to get off cigarettes altogether.
One council member acknowledged that he could not say for certain whether or not e-cigarettes had any negative health impacts.
“I’m struggling with this because I want to make sure we are solving a problem based on actual facts and justification,” said council member Paul Krekorian. “There are a variety of different views on the impact of what that second-hand vapor may be.”
Dr. Jonathan Fielding, head of the Los Angeles County Public Health Department, noted during the hearing that e-cigarettes are safer than tobacco cigarettes, but that they still contained contaminants.
Although Dr. Fielding has concerns about the growing use of the devices, other doctors — including members of the American Association of Public Health Physicians — recommend using e-cigarettes as a tobacco cigarette substitute.
Two Columbia University public health professors also recently wrote in a New York Times article, “If e-cigarettes can reduce, even slightly, the blight of six million tobacco-related deaths a year, trying to force them out of sight is counterproductive.”
Los Angeles is not the first city to come down hard on the vaping device. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg passed a similar ban back in December.
Now the industry, which by some estimations has created around 100,000 jobs, is being severely regulated in two of the nation’s most populous cities.
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