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NYC, Chicago Ban E-Cigarettes in Public Places

Update Date: Apr 30, 2014 12:03 PM EDT

The federal government is not the only one to crack down on e-cigarettes. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released a proposal on how it plans to regulate e-cigarettes, pipe tobacco and cigars. However, these new regulations will take time to enforce. Instead of waiting, two cities, New York and Chicago have decided to ban e-cigarettes from public places.

The laws in both cities will categorize e-cigarettes in the same group as tobacco, which means that any regulations for tobacco use will apply for e-cigarettes as well. People in New York City will no longer be able to use e-cigarettes in restaurants, bars, parks, beaches and other public locations. In Chicago, the law only extends to indoor public places. According to the proponents of these laws, they want to continue to dissuade children and teenagers from the idea of smoking in general. Some studies have found evidence that children who use e-cigarettes are more likely to smoke real ones.

"Imagine for a moment you're at a bar and there are 20 people who are puffing on something that looks like a cigarette and then somebody smells something that smells like tobacco smoke," Dr. Thomas Farley, the New York City health commissioner described reported by the Wall Street Journal. "How's the bartender going to know who to tap on the shoulder and say, 'Put that out'?"

Opponents of the laws state that e-cigarettes are wrongfully grouped as tobacco products based on its shape and concept. People who support e-cigarettes and companies that manufacture them state that these products could potentially help people quit. This claim, however, has not been backed by any evidence.

Robin Koval, chief executive of the anti-smoking Legacy Foundation, stated, "The right way forward will be a way that promotes innovation that helps us do everything we possibly can to get combustible tobacco to be history. We want a generation of Americans where, for them, cigarettes are a thing of the past - an artifact like a roll of film or a rotary telephone."

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