Mayor Bloomberg held his last bill signing Monday as opponents literally blew smoke.

Two protesters lit up cigarettes in the City Hall Blue Room as Bloomberg signed a ban on indoor use of e cigarettes and a raft of other measures on his next to last day in office.

Jefferson Siegel/New York Daily News City Council Member James Gennaro (right), of Queens, and his daughter, Christina, 18, present Mayor Bloomberg with going away gifts, including a cake, at his final bill signing in City Hall Monday.

Good people disobey bad laws, said Audrey Silk, founder of the group Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment, lighting up in defiance of the indoor smoking ban.

A security guard grabbed the cigarette away from Silk as she and another man who started smoking in the audience were ushered out.

Jefferson Siegel/New York Daily News Mayor Bloomberg signed 22 bills into law Monday, including a ban on indoor use of e cigarettes, a ban on Styrofoam and a bill to create a database to track Hurricane Sandy recovery spending.

Bloomberg seemed nonplussed by the protest. We just don t permit smoking in public buildings, he said. I think it s time to leave. Thank you very much.

Bloomberg signed 22 bills into law Monday bringing his total to 883 bills signed in his 12 years in office. He s vetoed 68 bills, and 65 of the vetoes have been overridden by the City Council.

Jefferson Siegel/New York Daily News Mayor Bloomberg (center) gets a taste of a going away cake presented to him by City Council Member James Gennaro (right), of Queens, and his daughter, Christina, 18, Monday.

This administration and the City Council together have every reason to be proud of what we ve done for the last 12 years, he said.

Besides the e cigarette bill, Monday s legislation included a ban on Styrofoam and a bill to create a database to track Hurricane Sandy recovery spending. Bloomberg s very last bill renamed six city streets.

Jefferson Siegel/New York Daily News Mayor Bloomberg, on his next to last day in office, said his ‘administration and the City Council together have every reason to be proud of what we ve done for the last 12 years.’


Jefferson Siegel/New York Daily News The final bill signed by Mayor Bloomberg renamed six city streets.

The high-stakes debate over e-cigarettes – the globe and mail

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Rarely has a single product evoked such diametrically opposed views or such passion as e cigarettes.

Anti smoking activists see the electronic nicotine delivery systems (the formal name) as another evil concoction of Big Tobacco, a devilish way to create new smokers and undermine hard fought public health measures.

Proponents of e cigarettes see them as a means of getting what they desperately want usually nicotine, but sometimes the tactile act of smoking without the carcinogens in tobacco, and as means to gain freedom from the increasingly oppressive measures taken against smokers.

E cigarettes are canisters used to simulate the act of smoking Batteries heat up fluid filled cartridges that contain water, flavouring agents and nicotine (though not always). The act of smoking an e cigarette is known as vaping because you inhale vapours, not smoke.

Health Canada does not allow the sale of e cigarettes containing is also illegal in Canada to make any health claims about e cigarettes, for example suggesting they are a smoking cessation tool.

The United States has, to date, taken a hands off approach, though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has served notice that it intends to extend its regulatory control of tobacco to e cigarettes in the near future.

There is no question that e cigarettes pose a dilemma for regulators and anti smoking activists. Devotees who are an unusually fanatical lot can trot out amazing anecdotal stories about the power of e cigarettes and five pack a day smokers who have become healthy vapers. Skeptics feel the arguments are eerily similar to options that have been touted in the past as being healthier like light cigarettes, cigarellos and chewing tobacco.

Dreams and fears aside, research on e cigarettes about their potential harms and potential benefits is in its infancy. Data on long term risks and benefits are especially lacking. In other words, the jury is still out, despite the grandiose claims of benefit from proponents and the dire warnings of opponents.

In a world where there are one billion smokers and smoking kills almost six million people a year, this is a high stakes debate.

The global e cigarette market is already worth $2 billion (U.S.) a year with more than half of all sales in the U.S. and it s expected to surpass $10 billion annually by 2017. And everyone is keeping a close eye on China where e cigarettes emerged in 2006 because, as it pushes to restrict tobacco, it is touting e cigarettes as an alternative.

Many anti smoking activists see e cigarettes as a Trojan horse, a gateway drug that will attract new users to tobacco and discourage current smokers from quitting. It is not clear how many so called dual users (people who alternate vaping and smoking) exist.

Then there is the fear that decades of effort to restrict smoking will be all for naught. At the recent People s Choice Awards, for example, vaping was de rigeur, to the point where it looked like a product placement for the popular brand Blu. The use of aggressive advertising using recognizable Hollywood stars is reminiscent of the old techniques of Big Tobacco.

The point of anti smoking laws and by laws is to limit exposure to second hand smoke, but if vapours are harmless, the argument for restrictions goes up in smoke.

So, do e cigarettes contain toxic chemicals and carcinogens? That is a point of much contention. Some research says yes, some no. Again, the reality is there is a broad range of products and no standards. But e cigarettes are principally a nicotine delivery system. Nicotine is addictive in fact, it s what makes people addicted to cigarettes. It s not particularly harmful it s the byproducts of processing and burning tobacco that causes cancer, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other health woes of smokers. Isn t it preferable to have people addicted to nicotine alone rather than nicotine and a potpourri of toxins?

The answer to that loaded question is Yes if you believe in harm reduction.

Most public health officials strongly favour harm reduction when it comes to hard drugs the supervised injection site Insite, for example, allows intravenous drug users to inject in a controlled setting with clean needles rather than in back alleys with dirty needles. But making that argument for vaping versus smoking doesn t have as much traction. When it comes to tobacco, most public health officials argue for abstinence and oppose e cigarettes.

The sands are constantly shifting. The Lung Association, for example, went from being an outspoken opponent of e cigarettes to taking the position that they might be a good smoking cessation tool, a way of weaning people off cigarettes. We don t know yet if e cigarettes are as effective or as ineffective as other forms of nicotine replacement therapy.

Probably the other persuasive argument against electronic cigarettes in 2014 is that they remain an unproven commodity we shouldn t be rushing headlong to embrace the technology. At the risk of sounding like the conclusion of every research study ever published More research is needed.

In the meantime though, it seems irrational and counterproductive to ban e cigarettes in Canada. A more sensible approach would be to regulate and allow nicotine delivery devices on the market that don t contain carcinogens.

In the war on smoking which is, after all, a battle to improve the health of individuals and the collectivity e cigarettes are not a panacea, but they are a step in the right direction.

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