Bloomberg's final tobacco crackdown: "Vaping" is now as forbidden as smoking

This week e-cigarette users joined their smoking counterparts -- outside of bars and restaurants

By Sarah Gray
Published April 30, 2014 3:00PM (EDT)
  (AP/Patrick Semansky)
(AP/Patrick Semansky)

Bloomberg may have left the mayor's office, but his laws are still rolling out. The most recent one to go into effect is the ban on "vaping" -- the digital equivalent of smoking -- electronic cigarettes inside public spaces such as bars, restaurants and parks.

The ban originally passed in December of 2013 at the final meeting of the New York City Council. The council voted to add electronic cigarettes to the 2002 Smoke-Free Air Act. Other cities like Chicago and Los Angeles have passed similar bans.

The Food and Drug Administration has yet to rule that e-cigarettes are an aid to help smokers quit, or a tobacco product all on their own. The FDA describes e-cigarettes as "battery-operated products designed to deliver nicotine, flavor and other chemicals. They turn chemicals, including highly addictive nicotine, into an aerosol that is inhaled by the user."

They also say that not enough is known about the product, including: "the potential risks of e-cigarettes when used as intended, how much nicotine or other potentially harmful chemicals are being inhaled during use, or whether there are any benefits associated with using these products."

Those who argue in favor of e-cigarettes say that at least users are not inhaling combustible tobacco and other chemicals like tar. However, it is still unproven that e-cigarettes help people quit smoking or "vaping" altogether.

Those against e-cigarettes argue that they are a gateway to actual cigarettes -- especially for teens. The Centers for Disease Control reports:

"The findings from the National Youth Tobacco Survey, in today’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, show that the percentage of high school students who reported ever using an e-cigarette rose from 4.7 percent in 2011 to 10.0 percent in 2012. In the same time period, high school students using e-cigarettes within the past 30 days rose from 1.5 percent to 2.8 percent.  Use also doubled among middle school students.  Altogether, in 2012 more than 1.78 million middle and high school students nationwide had tried e-cigarettes."

Still, some New Yorkers are not pleased by the ban. The libertarian magazine Reason hosted a recent protest party at the Museum of Sex. Attendees could vape indoors and then -- even after the law went into effect on Tuesday at midnight -- continue to suck in flavored nicotine liquid* in defiance of the law.

h/t, The Verge

*a previous version misstated that the liquid contained tobacco; the vaporizer liquid contains nicotine.

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email

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Electronic Cigarettes New York City Smoking Tobacco Vaping