First Mayor Bloomberg started restricting sodas. Then he turned to banishing junk food. His final target was the electronic cigarette and he managed to deliver a death blow to vapers as one of his final official acts. On Monday, he signed the official e-cig ban into effect as his last act as mayor of New York City. Vapers were furious.
In many ways, New York City has become a big brother culture where you can’t sip a soda or chow down on junk food without expecting government interference. It really wasn’t a surprise when Mayor Bloomberg started working to ban e-cigarettes from use in the city. Despite a lot of protests from devoted vapers, the City Council passed to bill in a 43-8 vote and e-cigs are now officially banned from all public places in the city.
Council member James Gennaro feels that the new bill is a victory for public health. “Electronic cigarettes are an unregulated product that threaten to turn back the important gains we as a city have made in the last decade to de-normalize the act of smoking and to maintain a clean air environment to live, work, and play,” he said.
Not everyone would agree with Gennaro. In fact, many New Yorkers were completely outraged when the final vote was finished. As Bloomberg makes his exit from office this week, there is a lot of celebration. “We love to be rid of him. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!” said Audrey Silk, founder of NYC Citizens Against Smoker Harassment. Other smokers echoed her sentiments and a few even lit up in City Hall to spite Bloomberg during the official signing of the bill. Security guards led the smokers out of the building as they shouted their farewells to the mayor.
The new vaping ban essentially treats all electronic cigarettes as tobacco products, barring them from use in any public place where tobacco cigarettes are already banned. Despite the stinging defeat for vapers, New York City’s e-cig fans will likely continue to fight for their right to use e-cigs. In reality, the ban will be impossible to enforce and it will ultimately be up to local restaurants and retail stores to enforce the ban in their own ways. For many business owners, enforcing an e-cig ban will be trivial and not worth the hassle and public conflict that is involved.
In reality, allowing e-cigs isn’t going to hurt anyone. Tobacco smokers endanger the public with toxic secondhand smoke, but e-cigs aren’t putting anyone at risk for secondhand smoke. The devices only emit a vapor mist that dissipates within seconds. It is odor free and contains no toxins or chemicals that would pose any public threat.
Ultimately, the city council’s decision was not shocking, but vapers were still disappointed to hear of the new restrictions. Bloomberg’s campaign against e-cigs could set a dangerous precedent as other cities are trying to determine how to handle vaping and the FDA is yet to release an official regulation.
Do you expect New York City businesses to enforce the vaping ban or was it all just a waste of time?