Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal today announced the approval of a bill to establish a statewide ban on the use of electronic cigarettes both indoors and in some outdoor spaces in order to protect the public from the unwanted exposure to e-cigarette emissions, which contain toxic substances that are harmful to human health.
"While the state's highly popular Clean Indoor Air Act has successfully reduced New Yorkers' exposure to the dangers of second-hand tobacco smoke for more than a decade, the act unfortunately does not include the public use of electronic cigarettes," said Speaker Heastie. "Under this legislation, electronic cigarettes will be subjected to the same restrictions on public use that are currently applied to smoking tobacco in order to protect the public from being exposed to e-cigarette vapors of which there are serious conerns about their impact on human health."
"We know that e-cigarettes emit vapor laced with nicotine, a highly addictive drug, volatile organic compounds, such as benzene, as well as heavy metals, including nickel, lead and tin, and the companies selling these products are using the same successful marketing strategies the tobacco companies used decades ago to get young people hooked on cigarettes," said Rosenthal, the bill's sponsor. "This legislation is important because it will shield the public from being forced to breathe the dangerous vapor of an e-cigarette, and send the message to minors that e-cigarette usage could lead to a nicotine addiction and a lifetime of costly and debilitating health problems. It also will ensure the reasonable and popular clean indoor air standards that we fought to establish through the 2003 Clean Indoor Air Act are not jeopardized."
The Assembly's legislation (A.516, Rosenthal) adds electronic cigarettes to the regulatory provisions of the state's Clean Indoor Air Act which would prohibit e-cigarette use in a number of indoor spaces such as schools, workplaces, bars, restaurants, public transportation vehicles and facilities, healthcare buildings, all public and private higher education institutions and sports arenas. Under the bill, e-cigarette usage would be allowed only in those outdoor restaurant seating areas where current state law permits tobacco smoking to occur.
Heastie and Rosenthal point to recent findings that document the health risks associated with the use of e-cigarettes, including studies by the Food and Drug Administration and others that have found e-cigarettes to be toxic and users are at risk of inhaling a variety of dangerous chemical toxins such as diethyleneglycol, a key ingredient in automobile antifreeze. The Center for Disease Control has reported that between 2011 and 2015 e-cigarette usage among middle school and high school students has grown by close to 1,000 percent.
The Clean Indoor Air Act, which the Assembly championed into law in 2003, imposes fees on violators of up to $2,000 for violations assessed by DOH and a maximum fine of $1,000 for judgments made by county or city enforcement officers.