Following the example of the two other U.S. major cities – New York and Chicago – Los Angeles becomes the third metropolis to ban e-cigarettes use indoors. At the beginning of March 2014, the Los Angeles City Council approved a bill that would essentially treat e-cigarettes the same way as traditional tobacco products; therefore, outlawing their use indoors. All of the 14 council members voted unanimously in favor of the e-cig bill. That means puffing on ecigs or personal vaporizers will be banned in clubs and bars, on beaches, in parks, in many office buildings, in markets and restaurants, and even in outdoor dining areas within city limits.
“We have an obligation to protect the workforce from the effects of secondhand aerosol exhaled by people who choose to ‘vape’ on e-cigarettes,” said Mitch O’Farrell of Los Angeles’ City Council. ”We also have a responsibility to protect our youth and everyone else in public places from the carcinogens found in the ultra-fine particles in e-cigarette aerosol.”
Many vaping enthusiasts and industry spokespersons are of course against this bill, arguing that the vapor coming from these devices is harmless to bystanders as some scientific studies proved and they offer a safer alternative to the harmful tobacco smoke. Even a couple Columbia University public health professors wrote this in the New York Times recently: “If e-cigarettes can reduce, even slightly, the blight of six million tobacco-related deaths a year, trying to force them out of sight is counterproductive.”
But sadly, this opinion is not shared by everyone. “Safer does not mean safe,” said the LA County’s public health director Dr. Jonathan Fielding. “Although they are less harmful than traditional cigarettes, some e-cigarettes contain some health risks.” He also added that e-cigarettes have grown into a “$1.5 billion industry that has caught the attention of big tobacco which historically has had scant regard for public health.”
The bill has become law at midnight on April 19, but there is still a slight chance that a voter referendum seeking will overturn the ban if it happens. Opponents would have 30 days to turn in signatures from the equivalent of “10 percent of the total number of votes cast for all candidates for the office of mayor at the last general municipal election,” states the clerk’s office. But they would have to also get the “language” of these petitions (the documents asking you to sign up) approved by the clerk and the City Attorney, which could take from 10 days to two weeks or more. That makes getting thousands of endorsements ready by the settled date a long shot.
However The Arts, Parks, Health, Aging and River Committee added an amendment to the e-cigarette ordinance proposed by City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell and others. The change would provide an ecig safe haven at the growing number of vapor lounges in town: “If people feel it’s helping them quit smoking, fine, that’s great,” O’Farrell’s spokesman, Tony Arranaga, declared. “It just limits where people can use e-cigarettes.”