Backlash to LA's E-Cig Ban

Manufacturers cite lack of scientific evidence to support city’s actions

Published in CSP Daily News

By
Melissa Vonder Haar, Tobacco Editor

Vapor lounges
LOS ANGELES -- Although the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to ban electronic cigarette use in public spaces, not every member supported the measure as it was written: USA Today reported councilmember Joe Buscaino put forth an amendment to exempt bars, stating that there was not “conclusive evidence that secondhand vapors present a health risk.”
 
“I believe this ordinance goes too far in restricting individual liberties,” he said during the debate. “We should allow bar and restaurant owners to decide whether or not to allow this in their establishment.”
 
And though the rest of the council voted down Buscaino’s amendment, many e-cigarette manufacturer’s agree with his sentiments, including R.J. Reynolds Vapor Co., who is about to take its Vuse products national.
 
“Regarding banning the use of vapor products, R.J. Reynolds Vapor Co. believes any such regulation should be based on sound science,” spokesperson Richard Smith told Tobacco E-News, noting that e-cigs are not combustible and therefore do not produce smoke. “As such, we believe adult tobacco consumers should be allowed to use the product in places where smoking is banned.”
 
While Smith said Reynolds would support bans in schools and childcare facilities, he said the company “believes it should be up to an individual company or business owner as to what type of restrictions, if any, they would place on the use of vapor products at their facilities.”
 
Jason Healy, president of Lorillard’s Blu eCigs, told Bloomberg that the move to ban vaping in public spaces despite a lack of scientific evidence has been motivated by a deep seated hostility towards tobacco and supported by pharmaceutical companies who produce nicotine replacement therapies.
 
“There is an inherent hatred of tobacco cigarettes, which has been earned,” Healy said. “People are trying to make us out as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. We’re a sheep in wolf’s clothing; 99% of our customers are existing smokers.”
 
NJOY was another e-cigarette manufacturer to object to the lack of science supporting the Los Angeles ban, though the company was grateful the City Council amended the measure to exempt vapor lounges.
 
"We would like to thank the Los Angeles City Council for their debate and discussion on the issue of e-cigarettes in public places,” NJOY said in a written statement. “And, although we believe the final decision was made in the absence of credible science, it was a more reasonable and sensible approach than the original proposal.” 
 
But it added, “NJOY remains concerned, however, that banning e-cigarette use in public places could deter current tobacco smokers from using the products and thus disserves public health.”