Electronic cigarettes, usually called “e-cigarettes,” are battery-powered devices meant to simulate tobacco smoking. They work by vaporizing a liquid solution — some contain nicotine but many simply release a flavored vapor. E-cigarettes have become increasingly popular with Americans who wish to ween themselves off of normal cigarettes. At this time, there is no scientific evidence that vapor emitted from e-cigarettes is dangerous. In other words, there is no proof that the electronic devices can cause harmful secondhand smoke.
But that doesn’t stop Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanual, who is moving to ban electronic cigarettes from being used indoors.
The mayor’s plan, which was recently advanced by City Counsel members, would require electronic cigarette users to smoke outside of Chicago restaurants, bars, and other buildings, along with regular cigarette smokers. Emanuel is attempting to push the new rules through the Clean Indoor Air act.
Supporters of Emanuel’s proposal claim that the ban must apply to both e-cigarettes loaded with nicotine and those with other liquid solutions. They say this is necessary since many restaurant and business owners are unable to tell the difference between e-cigarettes that use nicotine and those that do not.
Ald. Rey Colon, 35th Ward, does not support the proposed rules. He said, “It is a ban, because you’re making people go outside, you’re treating it just as you would an analogue cigarette or tobacco cigarette. You’re lumping it together in the same category even though you don’t really have any proof that it has any harm. You’re saying ‘We’re going to regulate first and ask questions later.’”
Ald. Brendan Reilly, 42nd Ward, agrees with Colon. Reilly said, “I’m certainly not here to defend Big Tobacco. They’re done enough harm in this country. But I do have friends and family members who are using (e-cigarettes) to quit, to get away from combustible tobacco that kills people.”
Emanuel’s plan also requires the electronic smoking devices to be sold behind store counters. Supporters of the rules claim this will make young people less likely to start smoking e-cigarettes. The Chicago Tribune pointed out that the “cartridges that can be loaded into the e-cigarettes can be bought in candy-like flavors that critics say are enjoyable for kids who then get hooked on conventional smokes.”
What do you think of Emanuel’s plan — is it a good idea, or merely another step towards a true nanny state?