A spokeswoman for Mayor Eric Garcetti confirmed to
Reuters that he would sign the measure into law in the coming days.
When he does, Los Angeles will join a growing list of cities,
including New York, Boston and Chicago, that restrict the use of
e-cigarettes, which are battery-powered cartridges filled with
liquid nicotine that creates an inhalable vapor when heated.
At stake is the future of an industry that some analysts believe
will eventually overtake the $80 billion-a-year tobacco business.
Public health experts fear that vaping, which has recently gained
popularity among teens and young adults, may serve as a gateway to
smoking for the uninitiated.
Critics also point to potential harm posed from second-hand vapor
from e-cigarettes, saying too little is known about the effects of
the chemicals contained in the cartridges.
"We have an obligation to protect the workforce from the effects of
secondhand aerosol exhaled by people who choose to 'vape' on
e-cigarettes," said City Council member Mitch O'Farrell, who
co-sponsored the proposal.
"We also have a responsibility to protect our youth and everyone
else in public places from the carcinogens found in the ultra-fine
particles in e-cigarette aerosol," he said.
The proposal was opposed by the makers of e-cigarettes, who pitch
their product as a safer alternative to smoking traditional
cigarettes and say there is no evidence that second-hand vape smoke
is harmful. Advocates of e-cigarettes also say they can help smokers
kick the habit.
FDA MAY WEIGH IN
The Los Angeles ban differs from restrictions in other major cities
in that it was amended to allow vaping in lounges and e-cigarette
stores and for filming or theatrical purposes.
"Although we believe the final decision was made in the absence of
credible science, it was a more reasonable and sensible approach
than the original proposal," NJOY, the largest independent maker of
e-cigarettes, said in a written statement.
"NJOY remains concerned, however, that banning e-cigarette use in
public places could deter current tobacco smokers from using the
products and thus disserves public health," the company said.
[to top of second column]
The City Council action comes as the U.S. government is
contemplating further regulations at the national level.
The Food and Drug Administration has already proposed a rule that
would bring e-cigarettes under its jurisdiction and could
potentially require companies to register and pay fees, list the
ingredients in their products, obtain approval for new products and
restrict online sales and marketing to children.
A law passed in 2009 gave the FDA the authority to regulate
cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and roll-your-own tobacco.
It also gave the agency the power to deem other tobacco products to
be within its jurisdiction, but it must first issue a rule to that
E-cigarette companies believe they should be exempt from the full
spectrum of regulations, saying that would stifle innovation, damage
small business and hurt consumers trying to quit smoking.
Tobacco company Lorillard Inc, the owner of the blu e-cigarette
brand, is the dominant player in the field, followed by privately
held NJOY and LOGIC Technology. The three account for an estimated
80 percent of the market.
(Reporting by Steve Gorman and Dan
Whitcomb; editing by Cynthia Johnston, Meredith Mazzilli, Ken Wills
and Jan Paschal)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.