Another City Bans Public Vaping To Keep People’s ‘Lungs Protected’

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

Lawmakers in Texas are cracking down on vaping, banning e-cigarettes from being sold or used in public places to protect people from the supposed unknown dangers of the devices.

Officials in Austin, Texas voted Thursday to pass the ban, which expands a city ordinance from 2005 restricting the sale and use of cigarettes in public, including parks and bars. Christie Garbe, vice president & chief strategy officer for Austin Central Health, says smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in Travis County, which includes Austin, reports KVUE.

The Austin office of public health has been trying to work e-cigarettes into the 2005 smoking ordinance for the last year and a half. Officials argue second hand vapor may pollute the air and harm public health.

“We don’t know what kinds of chemicals are in vape and whether or not it’s safe and so we want to make sure that everybody has the right to breathe vape-free air and have their lungs protected,” Garbe told KVUE.

The new restrictions on e-cigarettes are set to take effect July 3.

Vaping advocates say critics largely ignore the public health benefit of the devices and their utility in aiding current smokers quit the habit. Many medical professionals advise smokers to give the devices a try. A survey published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health last year found 57.8 percent of practicing physicians recommend e-cigarettes to smokers trying to quit, although the push to cast public doubt on vaping may be impacting this number.

A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in February shows a large reduction in the levels of toxic chemicals and carcinogens linked to smoking-related illnesses in those who switched to vaping devices for at least six months.

Researchers from University College London, Roswell Park Cancer Institute in New York and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) all participated in the landmark study, which refutes assertions from health care groups claiming vaping is harmful to health and a potential gateway to smoking cigarettes.

Democratic lawmakers in New York passed a similar ban to the one in Austin Monday, amending New York’s Indoor Clean Air Act to include e-cigarettes. Under the new rules, e-cigarettes are viewed no differently than any other tobacco product, despite research showing the devices eliminate up to 95 percent of the risks associated with smoking.

The legislation expands the state ban on vaping in certain areas to include restaurants, bars, offices and any other public, indoor space. Vaping advocates are slamming state Democrats over the bill, which they argue will dissuade adult smokers from using the devices to quit.

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