Albany moves to ban e-cigs in public after city’s ban
ALBANY — State lawmakers believe that if e-cigarette vapor is bad for New York City, it’s also no good for Albany, Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo.
In an effort to crack down on the “vaping” craze, the Legislature is set to follow in the Big Apple’s footsteps and ban e-cigs in public places, backers of the bill said Monday.
“We want the same restrictions for e-cigarettes as regular cigarettes,” said Sen. Kemp Hannon, who represents Nassau County and is chairman of the Senate Health Committee.
Joining in Hannon’s fight to curb e-cig use is Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan), who said she personally “felt nauseous” when someone smoked an e-cigarette in her presence.
“Smokers’ rights end when they start affecting nonsmokers,” she said.
E-cigarettes — which heat up liquefied nicotine to expel a vapor, as opposed to the carcinogenic cloud from a normal cigarette — have become popular since the state passed a ban on regular cigarette use in public places.
Supporters of the ban on e-cigs said the state should step in because the devices have not been regulated by the Federal Drug Administration.
“This lack of oversight is placing individuals at risk,” Hannon and Rosenthal said in their bill memo.
The FDA announced last week that it will start regulating vapor smokes.
Newmark, a company that produces e-cigs, hopes state lawmakers would wait to see how the federal agency handles the devices before taking action, according to spokesman David Sutton.
Other opponents of the ban say the state is just blowing smoke with the proposal — which, according to Audrey Silk of Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment, is more about expanding the “nanny state” than health.
“This has nothing to do about protecting others,” Silk said. “This is about control.”
CLASH is behind a lawsuit against the city, which last December passed a ban on e-cigarette use in public places, one of the last actions of ex-Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s tenure.
Sponsors of the statewide ban are confident the measure will pass this legislative session as part of a much larger Indoor Clean Air Act bill.
“New York City did it,” Rosenthal said. “The rest of New York state needs the same protection.”
The measure has the backing of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute and the American Lung Association, among other medical groups.