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CHICAGO & NEW YORK -- Legislative action to ban the use of electronic cigarettes in public places is popping up around the country, and Chicago and New York could become the first major cities to enact such a law.
According to an ABC news report, a Chicago City Council subcommittee will study a proposal to prohibit the use of e-cigarettes anywhere that the use of cigarettes and other tobacco products are already forbidden. The measure, which is supported by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other local officials, could be put up for a vote this month.
The proposed ban would amend an existing ordinance regulating tobacco use in public spaces, Chicago Health Commissioner Dr. Bechara Choucair said. If passed, it would go into effect some time in January. A prohibition on the sale of flavored tobacco products within 500 feet of schools would also go into effect within six months of passage.
The Chicago ban would also make it illegal to sell e-cigarettes to minors within city limits. In addition, retailers would be required to apply for a sales license to sell e-smoke products and they could only be sold from behind the counter -- the same as other tobacco products, Choucair told the news outlet.
Chicago is not alone in its bid to include electronic cigarettes in existing tobacco regulations. On Wednesday, the New York City Council's Health Committee will hold a public hearing on adding e-cigarettes to the city's ban on smoking in bars, restaurants and other indoor public spaces.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Councilman James Gennaro are sponsoring the legislation. They said allowing e-cigarettes in places where tobacco cigarettes are banned threatens "effective enforcement" of the smoking ban and sends the wrong message to children that smoking is safe, the Staten Island Advance reported.