Devotees of electronic cigarettes -- and industry lobbyists -- swear that smoking and "vaping" are entirely different but New York City begs to differ. The city council voted 43-8 yesterday to add e-cigs to a 2002 law that prohibits smoking in most public places.
And while it was at it, the council also banned foam cups, containers and trays, which environmentalists say are a blight that will continue to despoil the landscape long after the era of human domination has ended. Or something like that.
E-cigs don't really give off smoke but they do emit a visible vapor. E-cig supporters say the vapor is harmless but others aren't so sure. Among them is Jeff Seyler, president of the American Lung Association of the Northeast.
He called the city council's action "a common sense step forward" and said it would help protect the public from secondhand smoke ... uh, vapor.
“We’re grateful that New Yorkers will not be exposed to potentially unsafe secondhand emissions from electronic cigarettes,” Seyler said in a statement.
Mayor Bloomberg, who has sought to rid New Yorkers of just about every bad habit you can think of, is expected to sign the bill. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who failed to win election to succeed the retiring Bloomberg, said the 2002 Smoke-Free Act was "one of our greatest accomplishments."
E-cig boosters said the vote was illogical and "not based on science." One said it made no sense to "ban something just because it looks like smoking."
And as for those foam cups and meal containers -- they will soon be history, as the council voted unanimously to ban them from the Big Apple. Oh, and another thing: restaurants will be required to compost their waste under yet another measure approved by the city fathers and mothers yesterday.
Thursday's city council session was the last of the year, so if your favorite vice has not yet been banned, you have a few more weeks to enjoy it.