The decision came after an impassioned and at times highly personal debate at the City Council that highlighted the backlash the smokeless cigarettes have generated as their popularity grows.

Critics warn that the electronic devices, which produce a nicotine laced vapor inhaled by users, could pave the way for a resurgence in tobacco use among young adults.

Dr. Jonathan Fielding, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public of Health, said the growing acceptance of “vaping” as e cigarette use is known threatens to undermine decades of public education efforts aimed at stigmatizing smoking. Other e cigarette opponents said they do not want to risk the possibility that the secondhand vapor will be found to be harmful.

“We have a right to choose to breathe clean air,” Councilwoman Nury Martinez told her colleagues. “And if this device turns out to be safe, then we can always undo the ordinance. But if this device proves not to be safe, we cannot undo the harm this will create on the public health.”

Five states and the District of Columbia have already included e cigarettes in anti smoking bans or moved to restrict where they can be used. Last year, New York City passed an ordinance applying traditional anti smoking rules to e cigarettes and Chicago recently moved to prohibit vaping in bars, restaurants and most indoor public places.

The e cigarette crackdown has come “much faster than what happened with smoke free ordinances,” said Tim McAfee, director of the federal Centers for Disease Control’s Office on Smoking and Health, which has yet to release data on the potential harm of secondhand vapors.

Los Angeles’ decision means that within weeks, e cigarettes users will have to camp out with smokers relegated to sidewalks outside their jobs and smoking porches at bars and nightclubs. The devices will be permitted in vaping lounges, where customers can sample flavored e cigarette liquids. But they will be outlawed in outdoor dining areas of restaurants and at city sponsored farmers’ markets.

Geraldine Monroy, who works at Downtown Vape, said she doesn’t use e cigarettes in restaurants out of respect for other customers. But she voiced dismay that vaping will be outlawed in bars.

If e cigarette users are forced outside, “you leave your friends, you leave the excitement,” she said. “Regulating them would take away a lot of the enjoyment we have in smoking them.”

Cities are acting but, at the federal level, e cigarettes are still treated far differently than tobacco products. Americans haven’t seen a cigarette ad on TV for decades. But e cigarette manufacturer NJOY which hired lobbyists to influence the outcome of Tuesday’s council vote has run spots during the Super Bowl, one of the most watched television events of the year.

E-cigarette users have tripled to 2 million since 2012, study finds

Boulder jailer accused of trading cigarettes for sex with three inmates

More than 2 million people are thought to use electronic cigarettes in Britain, but almost all are current smokers or ex smokers who use the devices to stay off tobacco, according to a survey published on Monday.

The anti tobacco charity Ash (Action on Smoking and Health) says the number of e cigarette users has tripled from 700,000 in 2012. Nearly two thirds of users are smokers and the other third are ex smokers, Ash says, while use of the devices among non smokers is negligible, at only 0.1%.

Ash’s findings are released on the day that a consultation on e cigarette advertising closes. The Advertising Standards Authority has been examining concerns, particularly among public health doctors, that marketing encourages non smokers and particularly children to try them, and that they will graduate to ordinary cigarettes.

But Ash’s survey, carried out by YouGov, suggests this is not happening and that people are using e cigarettes to kick their tobacco habit instead.

“The dramatic rise in the use of electronic cigarettes over the past four years suggests that smokers are increasingly turning to these devices to help them cut down or quit smoking. Significantly, usage among non smokers remains negligible,” said Deborah Arnott, Ash’s chief executive.

“While it is important to control the advertising of electronic cigarettes to make sure children and non smokers are not being targeted, there is no evidence from our research that e cigarettes are acting as a gateway into smoking.”

YouGov surveyed more than 12,000 people, with Ash extrapolating the total number of e cigarette users in the population from the findings.

In a similar YouGov survey in 2010, 8.2% of current or ex smokers had tried e cigarettes, but now half of them have (51.7%). In 2010, only 2.7% said they used them on a regular basis, but now that is up to 17.7%.

Among current e cigarette users, the main reason given by ex smokers was “to help me stop smoking entirely” (71%) and “to help me keep off tobacco” (48%). The main reason given by current smokers was to “help me reduce the amount of tobacco I smoke, but not stop completely” (48%) followed by “to save money compared with smoking tobacco” (37%).

A study from University College London earlier this month had similar findings. The Smoking Toolkit Study carried out in England found that e cigarettes were taking over from nicotine gum and patches as an aid to giving up smoking.

The leader of that study, Professor Robert West, said “Despite claims that use of electronic cigarettes risks renormalising smoking, we found no evidence to support this view. On the contrary, electronic cigarettes may be helping to reduce smoking as more people use them as an aid to quitting.”

The consultation is looking at whether advertising rules need to be changed for e cigarettes. Some public health doctors argue that advertising could normalise ordinary cigarettes, which have otherwise become pariah products.

The e cigarette industry said the Ash survey showed that public health opponents, such as the British Medical Association, were wrong to oppose the devices as determinedly as they do. “Study after study is showing that scaremongering that e cigarettes are luring people into tobacco is baseless nonsense. The reverse is going on smokers are switching into e cigarettes as the way to reduce the harm from tobacco,” said Charles Hamshaw Thomas, legal and corporate affairs director of E Lites.