Like many paid programming and cigarette fanatics, you may have seen the above e-cigarette commercial hitting the airwaves, promising both a healthier cigarette and one that you can smoke in say, restaurants and bars. Although it’s currently legal to smoke these psuedo-cigs indoors, a recent decision by the FDA to regulate e-smokes as tobacco products has some wondering if a San Francisco ban will be soon to follow.
On Monday the FDA said “that it plans to regulate smokeless electronic cigarettes as tobacco products and won’t try to regulate them under stricter rules for drug-delivery devices.” While manufacturers of the devices say they were happy with the ruling, saying that rules will help in “weeding out the shady companies.”
However, by treating the e-cigs like traditional cigarettes, says the Weekly, the FDA is “making it that much easier for local politicians to justify a blanket restriction on e-smokers. “
As ABC7 reports, city officials don’t necessarily need the FDA to tell them that e-cigarettes are cigarettes: earlier this month SFO banned electronic cigarettes from its facility and now the rest of the city is, they report, going to follow suit.
“The San Francisco Health Department says if it looks like a cigarette and acts like a cigarette it is a cigarette and needs the same restrictions” says ABC7, “The plan is to fold them into the current smoking ordinance, saying that anything that looks, feels or functions like a cigarette is a cigarette and has to be banned from public places.”
Understandably, the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association is miffed. They say the ban is ignorant and that cigarettes don’t emit much of anything, save for noncarcinogenic vapors.
Says group spokesperson Ray Story, “To have a product and ban a product you have to show cause, you have to show at one point in time that this product has harmed someone.”
In fact, Story tells SF Weekly, a ban might harm innocent e-cig smokers, as “They’d be pushed to specific places (with smokers) so now they would be subject to second-hand smoke.”
Dr. Tomas Aragon, the city’s health officer, disagrees, telling ABC7 that “e-cigarettes are just another nicotine delivery system and send a message to youth that some smoking is OK…the big concern is the ability for people to become addicted to nicotine and also to be smoking in an environment where smoking is not permitted.”