New York City has already included ecigs in their ban on smoking in public places, but the rest of the state is still trying to catch up. So when an ecig user was issued a citation for using his ecig on a subway platform, he took the matter to court. After hearing both sides of the story, the judge ruled that using an ecig was not actually smoking and banning tobacco use does not mean ecigs are automatically outlawed.
In the case of “People vs. Thomas”, the Judge pointed out that the New York state law has a clear definition of smoking and it doesn’t include any language about ecigarettes. The state defines smoking specifically as “the burning of a lighted cigar, cigarette, pipe or any other matter or substance which contains tobacco”.
“An electronic cigarette neither burns nor contains tobacco,” the court noted. “Instead, the use of such a device, which is commonly referred to as ‘vaping,’ involves the inhalation of vaporized e-cigarette liquid consisting of water, nicotine, a base of propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin and occasionally, flavoring.”
The state tried to argue that ecigs should be automatically lumped in with tobacco products in public smoking bans because “the courts of New York have yet to make a determination as to whether electronic cigarettes are to be viewed any differently under these sections than tobacco cigarettes.”
But the judge wasn’t buying it. He pointed out that the state’s literal definition of “smoking” left no room for argument because it quite clearly excludes ecigarettes since they do not in fact contain tobacco or involve any burning.
This ruling is a significant victory for ecig supporters because it marks the first time a judge has ruled specifically on this issue. Do you think this ruling will have any impact on the way states regulate ecigarettes or will they continue to treat ecigs as tobacco products despite this case?