Implementing New E-Cigarette Laws
Residents in Chicago can breathe a little easier. Effective April 29, 2014, E-cigarettes have been added to the Chicago Clean Indoor Air Act. Smoking an e-cigarette is no longer allowed in areas where smoking is banned.
Under the leadership of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago was the first of the 20 largest U.S. cities to propose legislation to include e-cigarettes in their clean indoor air law. Following Chicago’s lead, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco also introduced and subsequently passed, legislation to add e-cigarettes to their smoke-free laws. All of these cities implemented their laws together — in April 2014.
It is unprecedented for the three largest cities in the U.S. — New York, Los Angeles and Chicago — to implement an important new health law at the same time. Substantial support and technical assistance was also provided by Americans for Nonsmokers Rights, the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, the Big Cities Health Coalition, the National Association of City and County Health Officials and of course, our colleagues in other cities.
As of April 2014, a total of 172 jurisdictions have now passed similar laws. Across the country, that number represents more than 38 million residents and hundreds of millions of tourists and visitors being protected by these laws. These numbers continue to increase each week as more cities and towns take action.
Not allowing e-cigarettes to be used indoors is a smart move for cities and towns that want to preserve the health of their community. Laboratory tests have found that the so-called “water vapor” from some e-cigarettes can contain nicotine, benzene, toluene, nickel arsenic, carbon, formaldehyde, acrolein and carcinogens that are only derived from tobacco. Until more is known about these products, limiting their use in indoor areas is just good common sense.
Adding e-cigarettes to smoke-free laws is also practical. People who want to smoke e-cigarettes can continue to do so in the same places where regular cigarettes are smoked, while everyone else can continue to breathe clean air wherever they work, learn and play.
In addition to ensuring everyone has the right to breathe clean indoor air, smoke-free laws create an environment that encourages smokers to quit and discourages kids from ever picking up a nicotine addiction. Legislation to include e-cigarettes in Chicago’s smoke-free law will preserve these benefits at a time that e-cigarettes are exploding in popularity among kids.