December 4th Hearing on Proposed Legislation to Prohibit Use of Electronic Cigarettes in Public Spaces

City Hall, NY – On Wednesday, December 4th at 10:00am, the Council’s Health Committee will hold a public hearing on legislation sponsored by Council Member James F. Gennaro and Speaker Quinn to include electronic cigarettes in the City’s Smoke-Free Air Act. The bill would prohibit use of e-cigarettes in restaurants, offices, parks, beaches and other public spaces. The hearing will be held in the Council Chambers at City Hall.

Joint Statement by Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Council Member James F. Gennaro, and Council Health Chair Maria del Carmen Arroyo:

“The Council has worked for well over a decade passing laws to curb smoking in New York City. Smoking rates are lower than ever and New Yorkers are healthier and live longer as a direct result of these laws. One of our greatest achievements in combating the devastating effects of smoking was passing the Smoke-Free Air Act which bans smoking in public places, restaurants and bars and in private office buildings where people work. The Smoke-Free Air Act has saved lives and has even been a boon to business.

E-cigarettes which contain nicotine, the addictive ingredient in tobacco, as well as other unknown substances now threaten the progress we’ve made and we must take decisive and immediate action.

Because e-cigarettes are designed to look like cigarettes, they pose a problem to business owners and threaten effective enforcement of the Smoke-Free Air Act.

Furthermore, we all know that smoking is a particularly difficult habit to kick. Allowing smokers an easy way to maintain their nicotine intake indoors can make quitting even harder. Allowing the use of e-cigarettes in places where smoking is prohibited sends the wrong message to children – that smoking is safe. The truth is, nicotine is a dangerous, addictive drug that could be a gateway to smoking and a lifetime of chronic health problems and even death. In fact, E-cigarette use nearly doubled among middle and high school students between 2011 and 2012.

Finally, exposure to the chemicals emitted by E-cigarettes, which are unregulated, poses unknown risks that we simply cannot afford to take. Including E-cigarettes in the Smoke-Free Air Act will save lives.”