NEW YORK (PIX11/AP) — Craving a smoke in New York? Take it outside, no matter what kind of cigarette you’re puffing on.
Starting Tuesday, electronic cigarettes will be treated the same as tobacco cigarettes under the Smoke-Free Air Act signed into law by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Proponents of the law say they’re are aimed at preventing the re-glamorization of smoking particularly among teenagers who could see them as a gateway to tobacco-based cigarettes.
E-cigarettes have nicotine-based solutions, celebrity endorsers and candy-like flavoring that lawmakers say are appealing to teens.
However, users and makers of the popular vaporizing devices contend they were poorly named, causing confusion with combustible cigarettes. They say the bans ostracize people who want an alternative to tobacco products.
New York City’s ban applies to indoor public places, parks and beaches. Also on Tuesday, Chicago banned the vaporizing devices in indoor public places.
Empire State lawmakers believe that if e-cigarette vapor is bad for New York City, it’s also no good for Albany, Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo.
In an effort to crack down on the so-called vaping craze, the legislature is expected to follow in the Big Apple’s footsteps and ban e-cigarettes in public places, backers of the bill said Monday.
“We want the same restrictions for e-cigarettes as regular cigarettes,” said Sen. Kemp Hannon, who represents Nassau County and is chairman of the Senate Health Committee.
Joining in Hannon’s fight to curb e-cigarette use is Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan), who said she personally “felt nauseous” when someone smoked an e-cigarette in her presence.
“Smokers’ rights end when they start affecting nonsmokers,” she said.
E-cigarettes — which heat up liquefied nicotine to expel a vapor, as opposed to the carcinogenic cloud from a normal cigarette — have become popular since the state passed a ban on regular cigarette use in public places.
Supporters of the ban said the state should step in because the devices have not been regulated by the Federal Drug Administration.
“This lack of oversight is placing individuals at risk,” Hannon and Rosenthal said in their bill memo.
The FDA announced last week that it will start regulating vapor smokes.
“New York City did it,” Rosenthal said. “The rest of New York state needs the same protection.”
The measure has the backing of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute and the American Lung Association, among other medical groups.