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Chicago and New York Consider E-cig Bans

Two key American cities are considering proposals to enact a ban on the use of electronic cigarettes in public. 

The proposed ordinances would classify e-cigs as tobacco products and ban their use in all private and public spaces where cigarette smoking is banned.

The New York City Council will conduct its hearing on the matter Wednesday, December 4. The action is sponsored by outgoing mayor Michael Bloomberg, noted for his attempts to control citizens' use of products he considers bad for them, such as large, sugary soft drinks, earning him the nickname "Nanny Bloomberg". The proposed e-cig ban, viewed by many as an attempt to leave a final "footprint" as the city's nanny, is co-sponsored by outgoing Council Speaker Christine Quinn and outgoing Council Member James Gennaro. The smoking ban proponents recently succeeded in pushing through a ban on sale of e-cigs to kids under 21, a move which had been advocated by most e-cig distributors anyway (except for the setting of the age at 21 instead of 18), and informally observed by just about everyone in the industry already. An effort to ban e-cigs altogether was scrapped.

The incoming mayor, liberal democrat Bill de Blasio is expected to continue Bloomberg's restrictive health-control policies, despite other differences from Bloomberg's Republican administration.

The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA) has called upon members and friends, especially those from New York, to contact their Council representatives, and has provided a list of contact information, as well as suggested message formats and persuasive strategies. New York area residents are urged to attend tomorrow's hearing.

Chicago, often touted as America's "2nd City", is considering similar actions. Mayor Emmanuel Rahm has introduced a proposed ordinance that would also define e-cigs as tobacco products and ban their use anywhere that cigarette smoking is banned. The Chicago ordinance would also ban sale of menthol and all other flavored tobacco products (including flavored e-cigarettes) within 500 feet (ca. 150 m.) from any school, up from 100 feet (ca. 40 m.) The state of Illinois has already passed a ban on sale of e-cigs to minors (under 18), a measure that will go into effect with the new year, as would the vaping in public ban, if passed.