Chicago follows in New York’s footsteps, bans e-cigarettes prematurely

Opponents scored another blow against the burgeoning e-cigarette trend today with Chicago’s approval to enforce smoking-style bans on e-cigarette users in the Windy City. OMG, guys—you’re just like New York now!

Vapers are now banned from using their devices inside, and when vaping outside must remain at least 15 feet away from building entrances. Backed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the ban passed 45 to 4 in City Council and now regulates e-cigs like any other tobacco product under the Smoke-Free Illinois Act. E-cigarettes and personal vaporizers now face ordinances that limit not only their use, but their sale as well. 

“I do not think we should wait on the FDA,” Emanual said in a statement following the vote. “Adults’ ability to get the product won’t be restricted. Children’s ability to get the product will be restricted.” 

Which, to be fair, is all well and good. However, the real problem is banning indoor use, which most e-cig users cite as the main advantage personal vaporizers hold over traditional cigarette usage—aside from the lack of tar and so on. The thinking is, of course, that convenient, continued use will help vapers stick to vaping rather than smoking. But try telling that to Rahm Emanuel.

Cited again in the e-cig proceedings were the “sweet flavors” e-liquid makers provide, with supporters worrying that kids could be more attracted to this than regular smoking, and henceforth become hooked.

“Tobacco use in this country has flattened, so the tobacco companies are trying to figure out how to get more users so they’re targeting our most vulnerable population which is our children,” Rahm said at a previous unrelated event.

The problem with that logic, though, is that it assumes adults don’t also enjoy those flavors. And, additionally, loop holes like naming your pomegranate/blueberry juice blend something like “Uncle Johnny’s Bingo Juice” take that whole argument out of the equation. Advertising, after all, is a powerful tool.

But, still, Chicago’s ban comes just weeks on the heels of NYC’s similar measure, and both come before and hard evidence that e-cigarettes are objectively harmful has been released. Which is to say, the legislation is mighty premature, especially given the potential anti-smoking benefits vaporizers inherently provide. 

Which, of course, keeps the vicious tobacco cycle going. Even in banning “tobacco products” like this, we’re still doing more harm than good.

[NBC Chicago]