The following is a personal account of the New York City Council’s health board’s decision made on December 18th of 2013 to ban electronic cigarette use in all places where smoking too is banned. The account comes from the co-owner of New York-based electronic cigarette company and manufacturer Cherry Vape, Cheryl Richter. Richter has been extremely active in support of the electronic cigarette industry in New York and nationally. Voting will occur today (Dec. 19th) with the City Council at large to determine whether the proposal is officially accepted.
Today, I witnessed the NYC Health Council, perhaps unwittingly, sentence many New Yorkers to death by smoking. In a unanimous vote, with few exceptions, they sat resolute and smug and proud while they voted yes to ban e-cigarettes in the same public spaces that tobacco smoking is not allowed according to the Clean Health Air Act.
No comments from the public were allowed. In the hushed room sat members of the press, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ASCSCAN) and various members of other anti-vaping groups. On the flip side were various e-cig advocates, from the American Council on Health and Science’s Dr. Gilbert Ross, Attorney Gregory Conley, e-cigarette business representatives from Logic, and my team from Cherry Vape.
A flyer from ACSCAN was on each chair listing supposed and unsubstantiated claims that vaping was evil because it looked like smoking, creates confusion, and, of course, stats quoted from that highly edited CDC study. It also contained seemingly made up stats I’ve never seen before which lacked any citation or reference.
As each member of the committee recited their vote of “Yes,” a few offered explanation as to why they voted for the ban. Some even looked like they had mulled over their decision. Deborah L Rose (49th District), James G Van Bramer (26th District), Peter F Vallone, Jr. (22nd District), and Inez E. Dickens, (9th District) all seemed somewhat aware of the weight of the decision they had made.
They expressed some common reasons (ones we’ve come to hear from the “antis”) as to why they were voting yes. Although they felt there could be some health benefits to e-cigs, (they also felt) the science presented on both sides was conflicting. As to the affect of second hand vapor, they may not know yet what is in it, but the ability to smell the clouds of heavy vapor that permeated the hearing room a few weeks prior was evidence enough for them that they were being exposed to something. In their view, the public shouldn’t be exposed if they don’t know what’s in it and whether or not it’s safe.
Voting will occur today with the New York City Council to determine whether the proposal goes into effect.