An e-cigarette ban was approved by the Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday
to prohibit residents from using the cigarette alternative in restaurants, bars, nightclubs and other public spaces.
The prohibition will take effect in 30 days if Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti signs the bill, according to Tony Arranaga, a spokesman for bill co-sponsor Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, Reuters reported
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E-cigarettes, or electronic cigarettes, are battery-powered, tobacco-free devices that allow users to inhale vapor produced from a heated, flavored nicotine juice cartridge, which advocates argue is not only a safer alternative to smoking but also helps wean smokers off addictive tobacco-based products.
Proponents of the ban argue that not enough is known about the effects of the chemicals in e-cigarettes for the device to be authorized in public spaces.
Aside from the potential health risks, experts fear e-cigarettes may act as a gateway to smoking cigarettes for the uninitiated, rather than an off-ramp for the presently addicted.
"Safer does not mean safe," LA County's public health director Dr. Jonathan Fielding told reporters following the city council vote, the Agence France-Presse reported.
"Although they are less harmful than traditional cigarettes, some e-cigarettes contains some health risks."
E-cigarettes have grown into a "$1.5 billion industry that has caught the attention of big tobacco which historically has had scant regard for public health," Fielding added.
With the move, Los Angeles joins a growing number of major cities across the country that have similarly restricted e-cigarette use by banning them in public places, such as Chicago, Boston, and New York City. In the Big Apple, the E-cigarette ban was passed in December
, one of the last laws former Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed before leaving office.
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In response to the e-cigarettes ban, Miguel Martin, president of the e-cigarette brand Logic, said in December that "companies like us want to be responsible, but when you have municipalities prematurely judge what should be and what shouldn't be, based not on the science, I think it does the public a disservice."
So-called "vaping" lounges and stores will be exempt from the Los Angeles ban, which is in line with cigar and hookah lounges where tobacco smoking is allowed.
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