Noted by the Chicago Tribune earlier today, Chicago has become the next major U.S. city to ban the use of electronic cigarettes within indoor public buildings like restaurants, bars and offices. Similar to regular smokers, people that want to use e-cigarettes will not be allowed within 15 feet of a building entrance while smoking. According to the details of the ruling, Chicago natives will be allowed to use (it’s not technically ‘smoking’) e-cigarettes within retail tobacco shops and smoking rooms specifically designated by a building as well as private residences or vehicles.
The measure passed fairly handily among the city’s aldermen at a vote of 45 to 4. In addition to the new restrictions on smoking e-cigarettes in public, Chicago retailers will also be required to move all e-cigarette products behind the counter in order to more effectively restrict sales of the product to children. However, the state of Illinois already restricts the the sale of e-cigarettes to anyone under the age of eighteen. In addition, the city has increased the tax rate on packs of standard cigarettes by an additional 50 cents making Chicago one of the most expensive cities in the United States to purchase a pack of smokes, specifically averaging about $7.17 per pack.
When asked about the new measures to restrict e-cigarettes, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said “Having worked with the FDA, having encouraged them to take steps to protect individuals and children, they are usually an agency that leads from behind. And when it comes to the city of Chicago, when it comes to the people of the city of Chicago, when it comes to the children of the city of Chicago, I do not believe we should wait.”
One of the few opponents of the indoor ban on e-cigarettes, Alderman Brendan Reilly, is currently attempting to use an e-cigarette to quit smoking. Regarding the measure, Reilly said “You lose me when you want to treat a product that many people are using for cessation – using it as an alternative to quit – when you’re treating it just like the product they’re trying to get away from … We’re talking about treating two different products like they’re one, like they’re combustible cigarettes.”
While there are currently ongoing studies measuring any potential, long term health risks to smoking e-cigarettes, many consumers believe that the product is far less damaging than traditional cigarettes. Rather than breathing in harmful smoke, an e-cigarette user breathes in a water vapor solution that’s often laced with nicotine and some type of flavoring. In addition, e-cigarettes are vastly less odoriferous than traditional cigarettes, thus more ideal for the office environment.
Prior to this ruling in Chicago, New York passed a similar measure in December 2013. The New York City Council banned the use of all e-cigarette products in public places around the city, despite similar resistance from members of the government. In addition to that measure, New York also became one of the strictest states when it comes to age laws regarding the purchase of cigarettes. Starting during May 2014, New York residents under the age of 21 will not be able to purchase cigarettes.