Los Angeles follows New York with e-cigarette ban

City Council votes unanimously for partial ban, though some fear it may go too far

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The city of Los Angeles this week moved to ban the use of electronic cigarettes in some public spaces, following similar restrictions passed in New York and Chicago. As Reuters reports, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously yesterday to ban "vaping" in restaurants, bars, parks, and other areas where cigarette smoking is prohibited. The ordinance would go into effect 30 days after Mayor Eric Garcetti signs it into law.

The measure first came up for debate in February, after Los Angeles passed new regulations prohibiting the sale of so-called e-cigarettes to minors. Proponents of the ban say e-cigarettes could be used as a gateway for young people to start smoking real cigarettes, though detractors say the ordinance goes too far. One council member proposed exempting bars and nightclubs from the ban, noting that they're traditionally adult spaces. Vaping lounges and stores are exempt from the ordinance passed Tuesday, and e-cigarettes would still be allowed for "theatrical purposes."

"this proposal is misguided because it would do a public health disservice."

Some studies have suggested that the chemicals contained in e-cigarette cartridges are far less harmful than cigarette smoke, but public health experts say too little is known about the long-term effects of the second-hand vapor that e-cigarettes produce. Others have argued that the ban may encourage former smokers to return to normal cigarettes.

"Such restrictions make sense for traditional tobacco cigarettes," Charles D. Connor, former president and CEO of the American Lung Association, wrote in a blog post on the proposed ban last month. "But this proposal is misguided because it would do a public health disservice, discouraging smokers from switching to less-harmful electronic cigarettes that do not combust tobacco and therefore, do not create second-hand smoke."

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