The vapor community took a hit yesterday as New York City’s Council voted to include electronic cigarettes and all other vapor products in the Smoke Free Air Act. Yes, it does seem silly to those of us who know the benefits of vapor that it would be able to be included in a piece of legislation that specifically names “smoke” as being an adverse health factor. Apparently those who sit on the City Council in the Big Apple disagree.
The main argument that has been cited over the past month (yes, they only debated this piece of legislation for about a month) is that allowing vapers to use e cigs indoors and in other public places “normalizes” the act of smoking. Opponents seem to think that electronic cigarettes are so similar to those that are actually smoked that the public would not be able to tell the difference. They combined this, rather weak, argument with data that shows that the health effects of vapor are yet to be fully known, and convinced the Council to include vapor in a smoke ban. While we readily agree that there are still unanswered health questions, this occurrence has the potential to set electronic cigarettes back. As high profile as New York City is, they may very well serve as an example for other municipalities around the nation. If limiting the use of electronic cigarettes without proper information becomes a trend, vapers may find themselves on the curb with smokers across the nation. This is certainly the most extreme outcome, but still a very possible one.
While the ban is still not official, it only needs to be signed by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to become law. Businesses in New York are being told to begin posting “No Vaping” signs now, so that customer will be used to the new rules when they are formally enacted in four months. As much of a loss as this is, it was great to see vapers in New York speak up over the past month. If you, like us, followed the story you most likely saw vapers turning out in numbers at City Council meetings, mods and e cigs in-hand, to speak their case. Those who defend vapor rights even showed up to yesterday’s vote. We were able to follow along on Twiter as e cig advocates publicized the meeting.
Gregory Conley (@GregTHR), a CASSA Advisor who is quickly becoming well known in the vapor community was there. In addition to having a little fun with an anti-vapor politician from New Jersey, he provided updates during the entire meeting.
Twitter’s @burnt_wick maintained a more light hearted tone during the vote, yet spread the word just the same.
As much as bans like the one that New York has decided upon are bad for vapor, it is good to see that the e cig community is growing and becoming more organized. Take some time to go out in your own town and find fellow vapers. Educate others about the benefits, but remember tact and courtesy. While taking away our rights as vapers doesn’t include either, we won’t move forward together if we fail to be constructive.