E-Cig Ban Voted Down in Chicago
For the past few months, Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been on a mission to classify electronic cigarettes as tobacco products so he can ban them from public use. As the city council debated the issue, citizens spoke out in support of e-cigs and it appears that the vapers have won this round of the battle. Even several local Aldermen spoke in support of e-cigarettes and the city council ultimately voted down the proposed ban.
Despite Emanuel’s efforts to rid the city of public vaping, the City Council voted only to make it illegal for minors to buy ecigarettes. They also tightened regulations on tobacco products by deciding that no tobacco products could be sold within 500 feet of schools in the city. That is a fivefold increase from the previous distance of 100 feet.
So what swayed the city council to finally vote down the proposed e-cig ban? It came down to vapor. The city alderman began to debate whether e-cig vapor could really be all that dangerous. They started talking about how it different from vapor produced by boiling water and humidifiers and decided it would be illogical to take action against e-cigarettes based on vapor alone.
Alderman Leslie Hairston told the council that banning e-cigs would be a bad move for the city’s smokers. “We’re punishing a group of people for trying not to smoke. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t on one day say, ‘We’re going to tax the heck out of a cigarette,’ then the next day (say), ‘For those of you who can’t afford it and decide you want to smoke vapor, we’re going to decide you can’t do that, either.’” Hairstone went on to say that banning e-cigs would mean also banning other vapor producing items like boiling pots of water and humidifiers. It just didn’t make sense.
Alderman Brendan Reilly echoed Hairston’s argument and he even brought his own e-cigarette so the city council meeting could see it in action. He explained that the had bought an e-cig to help him stop smoking and he used it in front of the council so they could see it, smell it, and touch it.
In yet another show of support for e-cigs, Alderman Joe Moreno said, “We’re trying to protect a set of people (who) don’t need protection. I don’t see why we need to protect people from something I can (create) when I make my tea in the morning. I have no problem with my 10-year-old daughter being in the kitchen when that happens.”
Alderman Ray Suarez told the council that the ban would be too excessive. He argued on the platform of personal freedom saying, “At what point do we stop regulating people’s lives and making the excuse of safety when we have no documentation to prove this is even a safety hazard?”
With a huge showing of support from Chicago e-cig fans and a logical city council, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan was defeated. Today, Chicago vapers are free to puff away on their e-cigs without restriction whether they are at home, in the local park, or in a restaurant.
Do you think Chicago’s decision will set a precedent for other cities that are debating the merits of banning e-cigarettes?