The New York City (NYC) Council passed major health and environmental regulations on Thursday, Dec. 19, forcing e-cigarettes to follow the public smoking rules that apply to e-cigarettes and banning plastic-foam foodservice containers, the New York Times reported.
The proposal to include e-cigarettes under the Smoke Free Air Act, thus limited the places where e-cigarettes can be enjoyed was pushed by two departing council members, James Gennaro of Queens and Speaker Christine Quinn of Manhattan. The law in NYC now bans e-cigarettes wherever smoking is prohibited, including restaurants, bars, parks and office buildings. The Bloomberg administration supported the measure.
E-cigarette brand NJOY, responded with a statement after the vote noting NJOY has long favored sensible regulation that furthers public health and does not force electronic cigarette users back to smoking tobacco cigarettes.
“The New York City Council passage of the provision to include electronic cigarettes under the Smoke Free Air Act lacks a scientific or indeed any rational basis—and is a surprising and disappointing move that only benefits Big Tobacco. It reflects a clear misunderstanding on the part of the City Council of the serious unintended consequences to public health that their actions will cause. The City Council’s action is contrary to the ultimate goals of tobacco control, and instead promotes continued use of combustion tobacco products,” according to the statement by NJOY. “NJOY encourages concerned citizens to submit input to the incoming Council and Mayor in order to get New York City’s policy back to one that reduces the avoidable disease and death attributable to combustible tobacco products. The battle over this regulation is not over.”
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a big advocate of public health initiatives, is expected to sign the bill into law. Once he signs, the ban would take effect in about four months, according to NBC News Online.
The measure to ban plastic-foam containers came due to Mayor Bloomberg’s insistence that the plastic-foam containers are virtually impossible to recycle and that environmentalists have long complained that the foam products are clogging landfills.
Dart Container Corp., one of the largest makers of such products, and the American Chemistry Council, a trade group, lobbied city officials and council members and spent almost $1 million to convince them otherwise, the New York Times reported.
While the bill has passed, Dart has until Jan. 1, 2015, to prove to the sanitation commissioner that “dirty foam” can be collected in the city, recycled and sold in an economically viable way. If Dart fails, the ban will go into effect on July 1, 2015.