E-cigarettes, considered by many as a less harmful alternative to regular cigarettes, will now be subjected to restrictive use. They will be banned from indoor use in public places, making e-cigarettes no different from ordinary cigarettes.
E-cigarettes have also been banned in Los Angeles.
Supporters of the new laws say that it helps protect children. They claim that e-cigarettes, if allowed to be used in public places, send the wrong message to children. It makes smoking of any kind seem acceptable and could lead some children to take up smoking in later life.
Another argument in support of the e-cigarette ban is that they are, after all, a nicotine delivery system. They help consumers gain access to a drug that is known to be addictive and therefore e-cigarettes need to be controlled.
On the other side of the argument, anti- ban activists claim that e-cigarettes are much safer than regular cigarettes and help smokers gradually kick the smoking habit. Their use should therefore be encouraged, not discouraged. Probably the strongest argument of all against banning them, however, is the simple fact that e-cigarettes do not produce potentially harmful secondhand smoke. In the absence of secondhand smoke, why do other people care if someone uses an e-cigarette in their presence?
Do e-cigarettes really encourage kids to take up smoking and should parents be concerned? There is much to debate on this issue and there is no conclusive evidence either way. A possible compromise, if this is the main concern, would be to ban e-cigarettes in places where children frequent, like restaurants, and allow their use in adult- oriented places like bars and taverns.
Whether the New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles bans will spread to other cities is a distinct possibility. In the meantime, manufacturers of e-cigarettes, health advocates, the FDA, and others will need to resolve their differences and find a solution acceptable to all.