Vaping Laws Still Uncertain in New York
Electronic cigarette rules are still a gray area in New York. In recent weeks, there have been a number of disputes over where ecigs can be used and whether they should be treated as tobacco products despite the fact that they are tobacco free. A prime example happened recently on the Short Line when Rich Donnelly sat down beside a man who was vaping. Donnelly was stunned that the man would vape among other passengers.
When he inquired about the ecig policy, he was told that vaping actually isn’t allowed on the bus, but it’s not easy to enforce. “Our policy on e-cigs is the same as for regular cigarettes: no smoking on the buses,” explained President George Grieve.
Others believe that vaping should be outlawed in all places where smoking is prohibited in New York. Bronson Frick, the associate director of the Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation said, “It’s more than a nuisance; it can be a health hazard.” Of course, he didn’t offer any real science to back those claims.
In some parts of New York, lawmakers have already changed the laws to include ecigs as tobacco products, but it seems a statewide law is soon to come. “What we really need is a uniform regulation, but you’re seeing this patchwork because the state hasn’t acted,” said Bill Sherman, VP for government relations at the American Cancer Society. “It’s our top priority (in New York). We’ve got an 18-member coalition lobbying the Assembly and the Senate now, and we think there’s a 65 to 75 percent chance they’ll act before they adjourn next week.”
While some adamantly hope for new ecig bans, others are fighting that possibility as much as possible. For instance, a 12-store ecig chain called Smokes4Less has seen tremendous growth and they are fighting to educate New Yorkers about the potential benefits of allowing people to vape instead of smoke.
Manager John Panessa said, “E-cigarettes are cheaper, since they aren’t taxed the same as tobacco cigarettes – which is going to change, for sure. And then we’ve sold a lot of starter kits as gifts for family members and friends to encourage them to quit smoking.”
Orange County deputy health commissioner Chris Ericson said that authorities receive a lot of calls to clarify the ecig rules. For now, vaping is not specifically banned in New York’s Clean Indoor Air Act, however individual businesses have the right to prohibit vaping on the premises. “The law refers to the burning of tobacco products – pipes, cigars, cigarettes,” said Ericson. “So the question is – are e-cigarettes tobacco?”
The answer is clearly no.