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What the L? Take the bus and vape while you wait!

I look out my 10-th storey window at the "L" station a block away. The elevated train (the "L") run by the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) has just banned vaping at L stations, even the ones in the open air, like the red-line station above the Thai deli near my corner. I can see people walking around on the platform, waiting for the southbound train toward the Loop. Nobody vaping. Maybe I should leave my PV at home today.

Then I look the other direction, toward the avenue by the lake. There's my vaping pal Paddy waiting for the Lakeshore bus, half hidden by the vapor from his souped-up mod. I'll take the bus!

Sure enough, when the CTA decided this week to knuckle under to Mayor Rahm Emmanuel's public vaping ban, they made an exception for bus stops. Bus stops are "on the public way," conceded the city's transit authority, and therefore not subject to the ban in the same way as the L stations, where access is card-controlled, even though many of them are in the open air.

Why ban vaping in open air stations? "The vapors would be disruptive to our customers," offered CTA honcho Forrest Claypool, without offering to explain how he knows this. Perhaps it would be disruptive to his relations with the mayor.

The CTA's ban, enacted June 11, 2014, follows on the heels of the public vaping ban, pushed through city council on January 14, in order to make Chicago as good a nanny as New York, which had banned public vaping a few weeks earlier. The rationale for the ban is the idea that use of e-cigarettes will act as a gateway to smoking poisonous combustible cigarettes, particularly among young people. Yadda yadda. Everybody here knows how that song and dance goes. Proponents of this fantasy have yet to produce any actual smokers who took up the nasty habit through vaping, despite 10 years of e-cig availability. Where are they, Mr. Mayor?

CTA stations are already liberally decorated with 'No Smoking' signs. Asked whether 'No Vaping' signs will now be added (at no little public expense), Claypool let it be known that he thinks current signage will be sufficient to "remind" people not to vape up in the stations.

Vape shops within the city limits continue to do a thriving business, although they still may not allow potential customers to vape inside the store. Even at a recent vaping conference at the University of Chicago, participants had to go outside to use their vaporizers. There are as yet no vaping lounges inside the city limits, although there are several in the suburbs, some of them linked with companies that supply vaporizers and liquids.

Vaping culture is healthy in "Chicagoland", even if we can't vape at L stations for the time being. Who knows, perhaps this will provide a boost for the buses.

(Sticking my vaporizer in my briefcase) Be down in a minute, Paddy.

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