The city has increasingly restricted places where
regular cigarettes can be smoked over the last decade under the
Smoke-Free Air Act. Last year, the city council expanded those laws
to include e-cigarettes, a measure that took effect in December.
The group behind the lawsuit, New York City Citizens Lobbying
Against Smoker Harassment, said the new legislation was in breach of
the "one-subject rule" in both the state constitution and the city
The stated purpose of the Smoke-Free Air Act is to reduce New
Yorkers' exposure to other people's cigarette smoke, the lawsuit
Because e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco and do not produce
smoke, they cannot be included in the Smoke-Free Air Act without
breaking the one-subject rule, the lawsuit said. The group has asked
the state Supreme Court to void the law.
"E-Cig regulation is, even in the Council's words, at best,
tangentially related to the subject of smoking, in much the same way
that toy water guns are at best tangentially related to authentic
firearms," the lawsuit said.
The City Council said it believed the court would uphold the law.
"Our legislation ensures the goals of the Smoke-Free Air Act are not
undermined and protects the public against these unregulated
substances," council spokeswoman Robin Levine said in an email.
E-cigarettes use heat to vaporize a flavored solution of liquid
nicotine and other chemicals that the user can inhale. Their health
impact is fiercely debated.
A study published last
year in medical journal Lancet said e-cigarettes were about as
effective as nicotine patches in helping smokers quit the habit.
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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said the risks, if any,
of e-cigarettes remain unknown. It said it would soon propose new
regulations governing their use.
The bill was one of the last signed into law by Michael Bloomberg,
whose final term as mayor ended in December. Earlier in 2013,
Bloomberg also signed a law raising the minimum age for buying
cigarettes to 21.
Traditional tobacco companies, including Lorillard Inc, Altria Group
Inc and Reynolds American Inc, have all gotten into the e-cigarette
Shares of the three companies were up less than 1 percent in
(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; editing by Scott Malone and Lisa Von Ahn)
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