By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – City Council today is expected to cast a final vote on a bill that would add electronic cigarettes to the city’s existing ban on smoking in public. E-cig manufacturers and users are battling back.
At-large City Councilman Bill Greenlee says he plans to call up his e-cigarette proposals up for a final vote today. One bill prohibits their sale to minors; the other one is more controversial: it makes it illegal to use an e-cigarette in public, just as tobacco cigarettes are banned.
Supporters of e-cigarettes and manufacturers are up in arms, and some are running radio ads to defeat the measure.
“The Philadelphia City Council could vote as early as this week to ban electronic cigarettes from use in public spaces,” an actor says in a radio advertisement. “E-cigs: products that produce a vapor, and no tobacco smoke. We aren’t a nanny city like New York City, and we shouldn’t be acting on this issue before the state and federal government weigh in. Call your city council member, and call your mayor, and tell them you oppose the ban on e-cigs.”
E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that can look like regular cigarettes and simulate smoking. Councilman Greenlee, as well as Philadelphia Health Commissioner Donald Schwarz, argue that the health effects of e-cigs are not known, that more studies are needed, and that they should be banned until more study is done.
Supporters contend they are a safe alternative to tobacco, and that banning them could simply drive ex-smokers back to traditional cigarettes. The Nutter Administration supports the measures, so if Greenlee is able to convince eight other council members to vote yes, the bills are likely to be signed into law.