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Mayor Rides E-Cig Ban Out of Office

Hundreds of angry e-cigarette users turned out yesterday to protest departing Mayor Bloomberg's proposed ordinance equating e-cigarettes with combustible cigarettes and banning their use in all public places where smoking is banned, according to the New York Daily News.

They defiantly puffed clouds of vapor to illustrate the harmlessness of their vaping devices, which have enabled them to quit smoking when other smoking-cessation tools failed.

E-cig user Jennee Fowler, who says she switched to e-cigarettes 14 months ago, testified that "I smoked for nine years and I wanted a way out... I am not a doctor, but I know that personally my life is 1,000 times better.”

City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley countered with the familiar but unsupported fear that e-cigarettes my encourage children to smoke regular cigarettes. "If smoking becomes socially appealing or even glamorous again, you can be virtually certain that smoking rates of teenagers will rise," said Farley, without explaining why vaping would popularize or glamorize smoking. According to the New York Times, Farley also made the unsupported claim that this non-smoking device makes smoking socially acceptable and, despite Ms. Fowler's obvious evidence to the contrary, acts as a "bridge" back to smoking.

Despite the complaints of a burning nose and throat and a headache by a high school student who had come in to the hearing from Staten Island, the Times reported that the vapers emitted "sweetly scented clouds," which "left only the most fleeting impression before evaporating," unlike combustible cigarettes, which "would have formed a fetid smog over the room." It is uncertain what caused the lad's symptoms, but he seemed very angry as he swatted clouds of vapor aside. Despite the repeated correction, by e-cig users, of any speaker who referred to vaping as "smoking," the New York Post begins its article on the hearing by calling the protesters "smokers."

Outgoing Council Speaker Christine Quinn held that e-cigarettes should be regulated because use among kids has grown, ignoring the difference between regulation (which by and large is not opposed by users or distributors) and a public use ban, and also ignoring the fact that virtually no one opposes the ban on sale to minors.

The executive director of the American Council on Science and Health, Dr. Gilbert Ross, called the proposed ordinance "hyper-regulatory" and argued that it will cause some former smokers to return to smoking.

The bill's primary sponsor, Council Member James Gennaro, voiced fears that Big Tobacco will take over the e-cig industry (something many vapers also fear), without explaining how a public use ban will prevent that outcome.