Laws in New York and Chicago making electronic cigarettes subject to the same regulations as tobacco are taking effect, and their sellers and users are steadfast in their opposition.

The New York ban along with the measure in Chicago, one that previously went into effect in Los Angeles and federal regulations proposed last week are keeping the debate smoldering among public health officials, the e cigarette industry and users.

Proponents of the bans, which began Tuesday, say they are aimed at preventing the re acceptance of smoking as a societal norm, particularly among teenagers who could see the tobacco free electronic cigarettes, with their candy like flavorings and celebrity endorsers, as a gateway to cancer causing tobacco products.

Dr Thomas Farley, the New York City health commissioner under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, says allowing electronic cigarettes in bars and restaurants would undermine existing bans on tobacco based products.

“Imagine for a moment you’re at a bar and there are 20 people who are puffing on something that looks like a cigarette and then somebody smells something that smells like tobacco smoke,” Farley says. “How’s the bartender going to know who to tap on the shoulder and say, ‘Put that out’?”

Makers of the devices say marketing them as e cigarettes has confused lawmakers into thinking they are the same as tobacco based cigarettes. They say the bans ostracize people who want an alternative to tobacco products and will be especially hard on ex smokers who are being lumped into the same smoking areas as tobacco users.

Their defenders also say they’re a good way to quit tobacco, even though science is murky on the claim.

Peter Denholtz, the chief executive and co founder of the Henley Vaporium in Manhattan, says electronic cigarettes “could be the greatest invention of our lifetime in terms of saving lives” by moving smokers away from traditional cigarettes.

“This law just discourages that,” he says.

Chris Jehly, a 31 year old Brooklyn resident, also defends the devices as a vehicle for quitting.

“The tougher they’re going to make it on vapers, the tougher it is people are going to find an actual vehicle for quitting or as a supplement to cigarettes,” Jehly says from his perch at the counter at Henley. “There’s no need for it. This is working so much better than patches or gum or prescription drugs.”

Robin Koval, chief executive of the anti smoking Legacy Foundation, says that while ingredients in electronic cigarettes are not as harmful as those in tobacco products, they are still a concern because they contain highly addictive nicotine. The National Institutes of Health says users could expose themselves to toxic levels of nicotine while refilling the devices or even use them to smoke other substances.

Since little evidence exists on the effect of the devices on smoking whether as an aid in quitting, a gateway for non smokers or a bridge to keep smokers hooked longer she says she favors a legislative approach that balances public health with the development of safer alternatives.

“The right way forward will be a way that promotes innovation that helps us do everything we possibly can to get combustible tobacco to be history,” Koval says. “We want a generation of Americans where, for them, cigarettes are a thing of the past an artifact like a roll of film or a rotary telephone.”

E-cigarettes face dizzying number of state, local fights – us news

Video – eu ban on e-cigarettes – eu parliament –

Electronic cigarettes were officially added to municipal smoking bans in Chicago and New York City Tuesday, five days after the Food and Drug Administration unveiled its first proposed regulations for the increasingly popular devices. But regulatory fights across the country are far from over.

A relatively low profile struggle is well underway as state and local officials seek taxes, bans and restrictions on the multibillion dollar industry.

E cigarette business and consumer advocates support banning the sale of e cigarettes to minors, and at least 33 states have established a minimum age limit. The FDA s regulatory proposal features a uniform minimum age limit, and that idea isn t controversial. But on nearly every other issue, there s fierce debate about whether states and municipalities should treat vapor producing e cigarettes the same as their foul smelling combustible cousins.

The bills the e cigarette industry is supporting are Trojan horse bills that look good but actually leave gaping holes, charges Vince Willmore, vice president for communications at the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. They re offering bills that prohibit sales to kids but exempt them from other regulations.

Willmore says the anti smoking group believes e cigarettes should be regulated as tobacco products by states and that it opposes efforts by some state lawmakers to block further reaching local action.

ALSO Senator Says Adults Prefer Tobacco Flavor E Liquid

There is going to be a huge influx of anti e cigarette legislation in the last half of 2014 and especially in 2015 when the legislative sessions get going again, says Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, a freshly formed trade group.

In most clashes the arguments are the same.

Supporters of stiff regulations say e cigarette liquid contains addictive nicotine, may appeal to children and may be dangerous. E cigarette users stress the devices are likely a healthier alternative to combustible cigarettes, cite preliminary studies backing their case and dispute the veracity of age appeal claims.

“All of these efforts seem to involve this mantra of save the children, which really makes no sense to me, says Julie Woessner, president of the grass roots advocacy group Consumer Advocates for Smoke free Alternatives Association. What we need to do is ban sales to children and enforce those laws. You don t protect the children by imposing massive restrictions on adult users.

Pro regulation campaigners hit their stride late last year. In quick succession the three largest U.S. cities, beginning with New York City in December, passed laws extending existing smoking bans to e cigarettes. Cities large and small followed and many more proposed bans are pending. Four states, beginning with New Jersey in 2010, also cover e cigarette vaping under smoking bans.

READ E Cigarette Advocates Relieved, Cautious After FDA Unveil

New taxes have been a heavier lift and e cigarette advocates recently beat back proposed taxes in Oklahoma, South Carolina and Washington state.

Minnesota currently taxes e cigarette products 95 percent of their wholesale cost nearly doubling costs for users and reducing possible savings from quitting smoking. That was done a few years ago, before we really built up the network we have, says Woessner.

We ve been pretty successful pushing back, Woessner says. Basically what we re seeing is serious confusion at the state level about what electronic cigarettes are and they keep talking about how these need to be regulated exactly like cigarettes, which is crazy.

Bids to tax e cigarettes remain active. Gov. Chris Christie, R N.J., is seeking to slap the devices with the same tax rate as combustible cigarettes, and the Vermont Legislature may soon deliver a similar tax proposal to Gov. Peter Shumlin, D Vt. Going against the political current, Shumlin warned against the tax, saying, we should be cautious about taxing a product that we think might be gettin’ some folks off of tobacco.