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City Council Wed Jan 15 2014

City Council Bans Indoor Use of Electronic Cigarettes

(Photo/Lindsay Fox)

The Chicago City Council voted today to ban electronic cigarette use in most indoor public spaces, including bars and restaurants, and within 15 feet of building entrances.

The measure will also require e-cigarettes to be retailed behind the counter to make it harder for minors to purchase the product.

45 aldermen voted in favor of the ban, which was backed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Only four aldermen, Roderick Sawyer (6th), Rey Colon (35th), Nicholas Sposato (36th) and Brendan Reilly (42nd), voted in opposition to the measure.

Today's City Council vote follows Monday's vote by the City Council's Health and Finance Committee, which supported the e-cigarette ban 15-5.

Supporters say the ban is an important step towards protecting Chicago's youth from an addictive habit that could harm their health.

"Regulating e-cigarettes will protect our children from getting hooked on their kid-friendly flavors and marketing," Mayor Emanuel said in a press release. "This ordinance stands up for our children while ensuring all residents have the right to clean air and healthy environment."

"The passage of this ordinance not only applies smoking restrictions to electronic cigarettes, but also serves as a pathway to reduce the normalization of smoking that lures young people to using tobacco and/or e-cigarettes, and hook another generation on nicotine," said supporter Ald. Will Burns (4th).

Dr. Bechara Choucair, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said this measure sends a strong message that Chicago puts children and clean air first.

"We hope that our action will serve as an example to other cities looking for ways to ensure their youth remain healthy and tobacco free," Choucair said.

Critics of the measure say e-cigarettes don't merit an indoor ban because they don't produce smoke and therefore don't pose second-hand smoke dangers. Opponents also say the ban will make it harder for those who use e-cigarettes to help them quit smoking traditional cigarettes.

"We're talking about treating two different products like they're one, like they're combustible cigarettes," said opposing Ald. Brendan Reilly.

Matthew Glans, senior policy analyst at The Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based free-market think tank, criticized the ban as "A lazy and shortsighted approach toward regulating what is a very different product than cigarettes."

"E-cigarettes have far fewer consequences for personal and public health, and several studies have found e-cigarettes to be an effective and viable option for smokers seeking a nicotine replacement therapy," Glans said.

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D / January 15, 2014 6:42 PM

Score one for big tobacco and the drug industry pushing ineffective cessation methods!

Real Quitter / January 15, 2014 8:23 PM

Yep, i quit with them. Don't like the smell/taste of tobacco anymore. No kids are getting hooked, e cigarettes don't have the cool factor.

DebbieM / January 16, 2014 11:36 AM

This is just nuts. There is so much misinformation out there and misinformation about e-cigarettes. I smoked for YEARS and switched to electronics when I finally had grandkids. I haven’t touched a real cigarette since then.

I think the best response I saw on the news last night was from a company called ProSmoke. Here is a clip I found on their site: A representative from ProSmoke Electronic Cigarettes said "The decision to include electronic cigarettes with the indoor smoking ban was made prematurely and without significant research. This mistake will have a significantly negative affect on the economic growth of Chicago, similar to what occurred when the smoking ban was introduced in 2008. While the research and study of electronic cigarettes continue in the long term, many short term studies, such as the one from the Drexel School of Public Health, indicate results contrary to this new Chicago ban on E-Cigarettes.

Since electronic cigarettes look and function similarly to traditional tobacco cigarettes, they falsely assume they are the same. They are not. This is as silly as banning water at a Chicago Park simply because it looks like Vodka. The “smoke” you see being released is actually just water vapor, not real smoke from burning tobacco. Since the smoking ban in 2008, The Regional Economist reported that Illinois loses over 200 million dollars in tax revenue from Casinos alone due to the smoking ban. Service industries, including casinos, bars, and restaurants, reported an average loss of 20-22% in revenue due to the smoking ban.

In our current economy, this e-cigarette ban will significantly inhibit the economic growth of Chicago’s service industry and cause a loss in much needed tax revenue. It is important that Chicago politicians make educated and well researched decisions with both the health of our citizens AND the health of our local economy in mind. Unfortunately, it looks like this precautionary law was more of a knee-jerk reaction than an informed decision." I just pulled this from on their site but originally saw in on the nightly news last night.

Raquel / January 21, 2014 7:47 AM

To be honest, the top e-cig which really helped myself to abandon smoking was really my eStick.
So I really dont agree about banning it at all. They should do their jobs better and stop doing silly things to healthy users.

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