The New York City Council approved legislation that bans the use of e-cigarettes in indoor public spaces Thursday.
E-cigarettes are now prohibited in the same places as traditional cigarettes and other tobacco products. The ban will go into effect in four months, and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has said it will give businesses and restaurants one year to put up signs indicating that there is no smoking or vaping allowed.
Speaker Christine Quinn and Health Commissioner Thomas Farley backed the addition of e-cigarettes to the smoking ban.
“While more research is needed on electronic cigarettes, waiting to act could jeopardize the progress we have made over the last few years,” Farley said at a city council hearing earlier this month.
“The council has worked for well over a decade to curb smoking in New York City and I really believe it’s one of our greatest accomplishments,” Quinn said before the vote. “E-cigarettes threaten, in my opinion, to undermine enforcement of the Smoke-Free Air Act.”
Quinn also said electronic cigarettes may be a gateway to smoking regular cigarettes and could make it harder for smokers to quit.
Proponents of e-cigarettes say they don’t produce the carcinogenic and toxic byproducts found in secondhand smoke. When a smoker puff on an e-cigarette, the nicotine is heated and releases a vapor that doesn’t contain tar, which is known to cause cancer and other diseases.
A recent report by France’s National Consumer Institute, however, looked at 12 different e-cigarette models and found “carcinogenic molecules” in the vapor.
The addition of e-cigarettes to the smoking ban comes just weeks after New York became the first major city to raise the legal age for buying tobacco to 21. The city also set the minimum price for a pack of cigarettes at $10.50. Store owners who violate the law by selling cigarettes to customers under 21 will be fined up to $1,000 for each violation found in a single day, and up to $2,000 for a second violation. The measure also prohibits the sale of small cigars in packages of less than 20.