E-Cig Supporters Rally Together After LA Votes in New Vaping Bans
Los Angeles vapers are undoubtedly angry after the city council voted in new restrictions on electronic cigarettes on Tuesday. Following lots of discussion and debate, the council voted 14-0 to treat ecigs with the same rules as tobacco cigarettes, banning them from most places in the city. With the new restrictions, vapers can no longer enjoy a puff on their ecigs in nightclubs, bars, restaurants, or even in city parks or beaches.
While the city council argued over how to handle e-cigs, each member of the board had varied opinions of how vaping was impacting public health. Councilman Mitch O’Farrell was unapologetically in favor of e-cig bans, pointing out that he often felt offended by secondhand smoke when he was waiting tables in the 90’s. He reasoned that today’s restaurant employees probably felt the same way about inhaling e-cig vapor on the job.
Councilman Joe Buscaino defended e-cigs, explaining how they had been the key to helping a family member quit smoking after years of tobacco use. He pointed out that e-cigs were completely separate from analog cigarettes because they were tobacco-free and did not pose the same threat to public health. “I don’t think they should be regulated exactly the same way,” he said.
The city council’s president, Herb Wesson, disagreed. He told the story of his own addiction to tobacco and predicted that smoking would probably eventually lead to his death. He worried that e-cigs would just lure more people into nicotine addiction and therefore, increase tobacco use over time. “When you’re 15, you want to be cool,” he said. “And I will not support anything – anything – that might attract one new smoker.”
Jonathan Fielding represented the LA Department of Public Health and he agreed with Wesson’s concerns. Fielding pointed out that after years of working to make smoking socially unacceptable, e-cigs were undoing all of that progress by removing the stigma. “We don’t want to risk e-cigarettes undermining a half-century of successful tobacco control,” he said.
Ultimately, the council unanimously voted to treat e-cigs as tobacco products and LA vapers were left to adjust their lifestyle accordingly. Despite the disappointing decision, local ecig supporters decided to hold a “Save Vape LA” rally on Saturday to show that they would continue to fight for the right to use e-cigs in the city. Local vape shops and e-cig brands sponsored the event, along with Daman and Associates Attorneys, SFATA, and CASAA.
Herbert Gilbert, the pioneer of the original electronic cigarette in 1963 spoke to the crowd. Other speakers included John Cameron, the CEO of Emperor Ecigs and local attorney Phillip Damon. LA vapers were invited to share their own experiences during the event to promote awareness of how electronic cigarettes were truly changing lives.
The rally was a great show of support for the e-cig industry and it offered proof that despite restrictions and legislative power plays, electronic cigarettes are here to stay.
Were you in LA for the big vaping rally? Do you think it will make a difference in the future of e-cigs in the city?