L.A. City Hall this week took another step toward an e-cigarette ban that would treat the devices like regular cigarettes, with vaping soon to be outlawed at parks, beaches, outdoor dining areas, farmer's markets and many offices.
There will probably be one place where you can still spark up, though: Vapor lounges.
The Arts, Parks, Health, Aging and River Committee added an amendment to the e-cigarette ordinance proposed by City Councilman Mitch O'Farrell and others. The change would provide an e-cigarette safe haven at the growing number of vapor lounges in town:
"If people feel it's helping them quit smoking, fine, that's great," O'Farrell's spokesman, Tony Arranaga, told us. "It just limits where people can use e-cigarettes."
The committee last night unanimously approved the ordinance while adding the lounge amendment. The proposal will go to the full City Council for its vote March 4 and could be law by spring, Arranaga said.
E-cigarette proponents say the jury's still out on whether or not the devices are harmful like cigarettes. Second-hand smoke for e-cigarettes is nonexistent, and the harm, if any, in second-hand vapor is unknown.
What's more, some health advocates say the devices can be useful in helping people quit smoking. A pair of Columbia University public health professors opined this in the New York Times in December:
Banning vaping in public won't help. Instead, e-cigarettes should be regulated by the Food and Drug Administration as products "sold or distributed for use to reduce harm or the risk of tobacco-related disease."
... If e-cigarettes can reduce, even slightly, the blight of six million tobacco-related deaths a year, trying to force them out of sight is counterproductive.
In an opinion piece in Forbes magazine, Gilbert Ross, M.D., wrote this:
At least two well-done scientific publications have evaluated the contents of e-cig vapor and have found nothing to be concerned about ...
That's what Brandon O'Connell, who handles social media and marketing for VapeDay, a new e-cigarette store and lounge in South Carthay, tried to tell the committee yesterday.
"We were surprised at how misinformed the committee was," he told us. "They were using statements like lighting up, smoking - improper terms."
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I was able to enlighten them a little more about what they were trying to ban. They took it well. We're really happy that we were able to sway the committee in our favor so we can continue to promote a healthier way of living.
Opponents of the ban have taken out radio ads on KROQ (106.7 FM) urging folks to contact City Council members.
The city of Beverly Hills, meanwhile, has adopted an ordinance similar to L.A.'s that would impose the its smoking restrictions on vaping.