New York and Chicago have already begun leading the charge in regulating e-cigarettes like regular tobacco, but now, Los Angeles—the second largest metropolitan area in the country—is joining the list. The final vote in city council was 14-0 for the ban.
Calling it “one of the most personal debates to be heard on the council floor in years,” the Los Angeles Times runs down the meeting’s details:
“Lawmakers voted to continue allowing e-cigarette use in so-called vaping lounges, where patrons can try the various e-juices that are loaded into the battery-powered devices. And they narrowly defeated a push by the e-cigarette industry to let the practice continue in 21-and-over establishments, such as bars and nightclubs.
The debate brought to light the strong views on each side of the e-cigarette debate.... Backers of the battery-powered devices portray them as a godsend for those looking to quit conventional smoking. They also warned the research has not yet proven that second-hand emissions from e-cigarettes are harmful to others.”
With that, LA became another large American city in what Reuters calls the “trend” of banning e-cigarettes. Ordinarily, bans like this are touted as a way to assuage public fears about health and risk to children, with supporters saying that e-cigarettes make smoking seem more acceptable while parroting the notion that they’re not extensively studied as a consumer product. Those statements have varying levels of truth, depending on who you ask.
The main problem is, though, city councilman most likely are putting their political weight behind these bans because they believe there is somehow no way to tax an industry that is quickly beginning to rival the $80 billion-a-year tobacco industry. Historically, it’s true that regulation is the first step in actually developing a way to tax the product in question, so that probably isn’t far off—especially with an FDA listening session scheduled for the topic. Still, though, LA’s ban stands the chance to extend that attitude to other large cities.
Philadelphia, in fact, has not one, but two e-cigarette-related bills in city council right now. Councilman Bill Greenlee’s latest bill hopes to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, which is noble and doesn’t stand a whole lot of opposition in the industry. However, he’s also a co-sponsor of former Councilman Bill Green’s outright ban on e-cigarette use indoors, which runs closely to the bans we’ve seen in New York and Chicago.
We’re also home, though, to a growing number of vape lounges and e-cigarette users who made the switch from regular tobacco. It’s not likely the e-cigarette industry in Philadelphia would take a ban silently, but, still, LA’s actions stand to embolden our city council on that particular issue.
Unfortunately, that spells trouble for vapers and smokers alike in Philly. Trend or no, e-cigarettes have captured the attention of our legislation—and that’s not always the best place to be.