Vapers lost a fight to lift restrictions on electronic cigarettes in New York City after a court upheld the constitutionality of treating vaping like smoking cigarettes.
A consumer rights group appealed a ruling made in 2015 upholding a ban on vaping in bars, public parks and beaches instituted by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment, also called NYC Clash, argued that when legislators amended the city’s Smoke Free Air Act to include e-cigarettes in 2014, they violated the state Constitution by linking unrelated items. A New York City appellate court confirmed the constitutionality of the vaping ban Tuesday, arguing the intentions of lawmakers were clear from the beginning, reports New York Daily News.
The court noted the entire purpose of the amendment was to add vaping to the existing rules governing tobacco use, and therefore met legal standards to properly inform the council and the public on the proposal. NYC Clash maintains that lumping smoking and vaping together is a misapplication of state law and is currently deciding whether to appeal the ruling further.
“In essence, the Smoke Free Air Act has one subject, which is smoke free air,” Edward Paltzik of the Joshpe Law Group, representing NYC Clash, told New York Law Journal. “Electronic cigarettes are a product that does not emit smoke. The City Council may have confused some of the health effects and byproducts of cigarettes with the health effects or lack thereof of e-cigarettes and its byproducts.”
The ruling could have repercussions on vaping regulations and taxes in states and cities across the country. Voters in California recently approved a sales tax on all vaping products, similar to taxes levied on traditional tobacco products in the state. Lawmakers in a Pennsylvania county are gearing up for a vote to squash electronic cigarettes and treat the devices like traditional tobacco.
It would ban the devices in any school, workplace, sports stadium, government building, bus, cab or any other public indoor space. The new law will essentially relegate use of e-cigarettes to areas where traditional smoking is allowed, much like the ban in New York City.
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