Some city council members, such as James Gennaro, one of the bill’s main sponsors, want to see the proposed restrictions enacted by the end of the year. The hearing left the floor open for all arguments for and against the proposal.

Those in favor of restricting e cigarette use attacked the device. New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said the proliferation of e cigarettes could cause nightmares for bar owners and restaurant managers who must enforce smoking restrictions already in place. Farley added that cigarettes and their electronic counterparts often look similar, and both release puffs of gray white gas into the air.

“I don’t think we want to go back to a situation where bars are filled with smoke,” Farley testified.

Most e cigarette users in the room agreed with Farley’s comment on bars, but in no way believed it would be difficult to differentiate between an e cigarette and a conventional one. When Farley raised this issue, dozens of e cigarette users in the seats facing the council held up their devices, many of which were silver and either longer or fatter than a conventional cigarette.

In addition, Spike Babaian, co owner of e cigarette retailer Vape NY, pointed out several times that e cigarettes don’t release smoke. What comes out of them is a sweet smelling vapor the acrid smell of smoke makes it easy to tell the two apart.

But gas is released from both, and here’s where the debate gets tricky No one knows what’s in the vapor. That’s mostly because e cigarettes are not yet regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, meaning national standards have not been set regarding its chemical makeup. Everyone agrees the liquid contains nicotine, though, and that “vaping” is safer than smoking because e cigarettes contain fewer carcinogens. Beyond that, however, is where it gets fuzzy.

Studies backed by e cigarette supporters have suggested secondhand vapor has no ill side effects, but other research proves the opposite.

Lucy Papova, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Francisco, said other harmful chemicals besides nicotine could be hiding in the vapor.

“E cigarettes are not harmless water vapors,” Papova said in her testimony during the hearing. “Studies show that e cigarette emissions contain harmful chemicals.”

The level of chemicals found in vapor isn’t anywhere close to the destructive levels in secondhand smoke, but many supporters of the bill to limit e cigarettes pushed for a distinction between “safe” and “safer than cigarettes, but still potentially dangerous.” Vapor falls into the latter category, according to the bill’s supporters.

Many e cigarette users in the room said they had switched to e cigarettes because they could “vape” anywhere they like and had seen a marked improvement in their health since the switch. (New York City’s anti smoking laws prohibit cigarette users from lighting up just about anywhere in public that isn’t a sidewalk or a private residence.) This bill would enforce e cigarette restrictions along the same lines it doesn’t ban them. But e cigarette advocates are worried that any sort of restriction will provide an excuse for smokers to revert back to traditional cigarettes.

“E cigarettes seem to be a public health miracle, if we can get overregulation out of the way,” said Dr. Gilbert Ross, the executive and medical director of the American Council on Science and Health. “The law is unnecessary, it’s hyper regulatory, and it really will accomplish nothing more than forcing former smokers to return to toxic cigarettes.”

Like much of the claims made at the hearing, evidence for Ross’ statement is scant. One study published in British medical journal The Lancet showed that, after six months of e cigarette use, 7.3% of smokers quit. Nicotine patches have a quit rate of 5.8%, which is not much lower. The low quit rate for e cigarette users shakes the notion that droves of smokers are converting to vapers.

Still others argue the device makes it easier for smokers to avoid quitting. They argue that vapers can inhale whenever they like, which keeps their nicotine levels up throughout the day at work and when they’re not allowed to smoke. Then, they retire to their homes and pick up a pack of cigarettes.

“For every person in here who has quit smoking for e cigarettes , you have one or more person out there who e cigarettes prevented from quitting,” Popova said.

Some supporters of the bill, such as Kevin O’Flaherty, a director of advocacy for the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, said e cigarettes not only keep smokers from quitting, but also encourage kids to start taking drags.

Flaherty told Mashable e cigarettes are marketed in flavors such as cotton candy and bubblegum clear indications that they want to hook kids in the same manner that tobacco companies used to seek out children. And why, he asked, would New York City want to foster a new generation of kids hooked on nicotine?

Statistics work in Flaherty’s favor. The New York Times reported that e cigarette use among kids in grades six to 12 doubled from 2011 to 2012, from 3.3 to 6.8%. Among high school kids, the rate also doubled from 2011 to 2012, but this time to 10%.

The council’s decision will come after other cities have already taken action. Boston and Carlsbad City, Calif., are just two cities that have already restricted vaping only to areas where smoking is permitted, and cities such as Los Angeles are close on their heels.

The vote on whether to enact the e cigarette restrictions is set to take place before the end of the year.

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Image Mashable, Will Fenstermaker

Topics e cigarettes, Health & Fitness, new york city, new york city council, smoking, U.S., US & World

The e-cigarette industry, waiting to exhale –

Electronic cigarette reviews

His was an electronic cigarette, a look alike that delivers nicotine without combusting tobacco and produces a vapor, not smoke. Mr. Vuleta, 51, who has a sardonic humor, clearly relished recounting this story. He is the chief marketing officer for NJOY, an electronic cigarette company based in Scottsdale, Ariz., and it is his job to reframe how everyone, nonsmokers included, view the habit of inhaling from a thin stick and blowing out a visible cloud.

Mr. Vuleta, who told his tale in the office of Craig Weiss, the NJOY chief executive, calls this a process of renormalizing, so that smokers can come back in from the cold. He means that literally allowing people now exiled to the sidewalks back into buildings with e cigarettes. But he also means it metaphorically. Early in the last century, smoking was an accepted alternative for men to chewing tobacco for women, it was daring and transgressive. Then, in midcentury, it became the norm. As the dangers of tobacco and the scandalous behavior of tobacco companies in concealing those dangers became impossible to ignore, smoking took on a new identity societal evil.

Mr. Vuleta and Mr. Weiss want to make vaping, as e cigarette smoking is known in the industry, acceptable. Keith Richards might still be smoking tobacco, but in Mr. Vuleta s vision, that grizzled guitarist s gesture could inspire the audience, en masse, to pull out e cigarettes. The moment Keith Richards does it, he said, everyone else does, too.

Mr. Vuleta s words are more exuberant than the official company line, which is that NJOY doesn t want everyone to smoke e cigarettes but only to convert the 40 million Americans who now smoke tobacco. The customers NJOY attracts, and how it attracts them, are at the center of a new public health debate, not to mention a rush to control the e cigarette business.

At stake is a vaping market that has grown in a few short years to around $1.7 billion in sales in the United States. That is tiny when compared to the nation s $90 billion cigarette market. But one particularly bullish Wall Street analyst projects that consumption of e cigarettes will outstrip regular ones in the next decade.

NJOY was one of the first companies to sell e cigarettes now there are 200 in the United States, most of them small. Just last year, however, Big Tobacco got into the game when Lorillard acquired Blu, an e cigarette brand, and demonstrated its economic power. Within months, relying on Lorillard s decades old distribution channels, Blu displaced NJOY as the market leader.

Mr. Weiss still sees NJOY as having an advantage in building e cigarettes that look, feel and perform like the real thing. It s a different strategy than that of competing products that look like long silver tubes or sleek, blinking fountain pens.

We re trying to do something very challenging change a habit that is not only entrenched but one people are willing to take to their grave, said Mr. Weiss, who is not a smoker but has tried both regular and e cigarettes. To accomplish that, we have to narrow as much as possible the bridge to familiarity. We have to make it easy for smokers to cross it.

To some, though not all, in public health, that vision sounds ill conceived, if not threatening. Among their concerns is that making smoking like behavior O.K. again will undo decades of work demonizing smoking itself. Far from leading to more smoking cessation, they argue, e cigarettes will ultimately revive it, and abet new cases of emphysema, heart disease and lung cancer.

The very thing that could make them effective is also their greatest danger, said Dr. Tim McAfee, director of Office on Smoking and Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To achieve his ends, Mr. Weiss is building a company of strange bedfellows. He has hired former top tobacco industry executives, but also attracted a former surgeon general, Dr. Richard H. Carmona, who has joined the board. NJOY recently hired away a prominent professor of chemistry and genomics from Princeton to be the company s chief scientist. The company has attracted investment from Sean Parker, the former Facebook president, and Peter Thiel, the PayPal co founder. There has also been a celebrity endorsement from the singer Bruno Mars.

Mr. Weiss sees his company as doing something epic. Not long after he was named its president in June 2010, he asked his psychologist if he might record his regular sessions. It was an unusual request, but he thinks that recording his thoughts might ultimately help him write a book or movie script about how he and the company made the cigarette obsolete.

We re at this incredible inflection point in history, he said, adding that the company has a chance to make the single most beneficial impact on society in this century.