If New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg gets his way, electronic cigarettes will be subject to the same regulations as traditional tobacco products, the Washington Times reports.
According to three tobacco-related bills that will soon be up for vote by the City Council, tobacco-less e-cigarettes would fall under the same classification as those with tobacco.
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The bills aim to tighten regulations on tobacco products by upping the minimum age to purchase from 18 to 21, prohibiting stores from displaying cigarette ads and raising the cost of a pack of smokes to a base price of $10.50.
The use of tobacco coupons would also be banned and fines for selling illegal cigarettes would increase.
Foxnews.com reports that while smokers would still be able to buy tobacco and menthol flavored e-cigarettes in retail stores, all other flavored e-cigarettes could only be sold in age-restricted “tobacco bars.”
However, New York City prohibits the operation of “tobacco bars” that weren’t opened after January 1, 2002.
Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor of Community Health Sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health, considers Bloomberg’s plan “a public health disaster.”
“I have no problems with this ordinance as a whole — raising the age, banning advertising,” Siegel said.
“But [electronic-cigarettes] are a product that’s literally saving people’s lives, people who are literally at risk of disease and death, and giving them an alternative.”
The jury is still out on the safety of electronic cigarettes.
In 2009, the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about their use, stating that ingredients common to anti-freeze were found in some samples.
A study released by Drexel University earlier this month found that the chemicals in electronic cigarettes are harmless to smokers or those within the range of “second-hand smoke.”
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