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E-Cigarette Smokers Kicked to Chicago’s Curb

By: Katelyn Six, Section Editor for Block Beat (six1@uic.edu)

“Put the electronic cigarette down now or step outside, and nobody gets in trouble.” That’s right. Soon, e-cigarette smokers may be forced to step outside while smoking, just like all other tobacco users at Chicago bars, restaurants and other indoor establishments. What is forcing these e-cig smokers outside? The Clean Indoor Air Act is to blame.

On Monday, January 14th, Mayor Rahm Emanuel was backed by the City Council to pass an ordinance proclaiming that e-cigarettes are to be regarded the same way other tobacco products are under the act. So, what exactly does that mean? This signifies that e-cigarette products are banned from being utilized indoors of any public place. The ordinance also declares that e-cigarettes may only be sold behind the counter, and any person that looks under the age of 27-years-old will be required to show identification.

Mayor Emanuel claims to be propagating the act to benefit the youth of Chicago by attempting to protect them from the temptation of e-cigarettes. “This vote is about who’s going to stand up for kids,” the mayor asserts. “Who’s not going to be lured by the money…. If you think e-cigarettes are part of quitting as an adult, OK. But we’re talking about: Don’t let kids get started on e-cigarettes. . . .We’re talking about our children here. Keep your hands off of them.”

Emanuel believes this ordinance is important because he thinks Chicago’s children are being targeted by the nicotine-free liquids offered in a variety of sweet-treat, dessert flavors ranging from cookies and cream to bubblegum. “I’m not gonna mince words,” he says. “They get ’em hooked. And then they become smokers. And the flavors and the menthol start ’em on a path.”

However, a few fair questions remain: Are e-cigarettes as harmful as other tobacco products when omitted in the air and inhaled by innocent bystanders? Do e-cig smokers deserve to be kicked to the curb and forced to puff these vaporized cigarettes in seclusion? The answers to these questions are almost as hazy as the smoke this problem produces.

Most people have heard of electronic cigarettes, but many of them haven’t a clue as to how they work or what comprises the vapor exuded from them. To answer that question, electronic cigarettes are devices that release water vapor that may or may not include nicotine, and they are powered by a small battery. E-cigarettes heat up a vapor solution containing nicotine, of course, as well as water, propylene glycol and glycerine. Further, these vapor-emitting cigarettes range from $25 to $250 in price, per kit.

Many people that use electronic cigarettes are trying to quit smoking classic tobacco cigarettes. E-cigarettes look almost identical to regular cigarettes and accomplish virtually the same goal. The only difference is to take a puff, an e-cig smoker doesn’t need a lighter or matches. They also don’t have to worry about buying a new pack every week because electronic cigarettes are reusable.

As for long-term effects of these faux-cigs? Unfortunately, there is truly no concrete answer as to the question of whether e-cigarettes may negatively affect the long-term health of their users and others who many be inhaling second-hand vapor. According to Norman Edelman, MD, and a chief medical officer at the American Lung Association, “They [electronic cigarettes] are nicotine delivery devices intended to be used like a cigarette. What happens to someone who stops inhaling the tars of cigarettes and inhales only nicotine? We don’t know. There is at least the potential for harm.”

Nevertheless, the ban on electronic cigarettes in public places may defend users, and the bystanders who inhale e-cigarette vapor second-hand, from ingesting potentially harmful vapors – at least while indoors in. But at what cost? It seems only time will tell.  

Learn More About E-Cigs and Their Potential Effects:

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1 Comment

  1. […] E-Cigarette Smokers Kicked to Chicago’s Curb […]

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