The New York City Council voted overwhelmingly to pass legislation to include electronic cigarettes in the City’s Smoke-Free Air Act which prohibits smoking in indoor public places and workplaces, including bars and restaurants.
Unlike nicotine gum and skin patches, electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) have not yet been evaluated by the FDA for safety or effectiveness and are currently unregulated. Some studies show that e-cigarettes emit vapor that holds toxic chemicals.
A recent study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that in one year, from 2011 to 2012, e-cigarette use among middle and high school students more than doubled from 4.7% to 10.0%. I am concerned that this unregulated product will serve as a nicotine starter kit for youth. Some studies suggest that e-cigarettes are a “gateway” to smoking traditional tobacco products.
While the NYC Coalition for a Smoke-Free City is awaiting further information from the FDA, one thing is perfectly clear: New York children and teenagers should not be exposed to any products that may encourage addiction.
Local and state governments across the country are adding e-cigarettes to their Smoke-Free Air Acts. I commend the New York City Council for taking action that prevents the normalization of smoking of any kind for our young people.