Buffalo Common Council aims to protect public from effects of e-cigarettes

Ban on e-cigarettes offers a sensible compromise for smokers and the non-smoking public

Buffalo has taken swift action against electronic cigarettes, becoming the first community in Erie County to impose laws that ban the smoking of e-cigarettes wherever traditional cigarettes are disallowed.

The new measure, passed by the Buffalo Common Council last week, aims to protect the public from the potential secondhand effects of e-cigarettes.

Vaping has fewer health risks than smoking a tobacco cigarette, but e-cigarettes do contain varying levels of nicotine and the vapors emitted contain other substances as well, including formaldehyde and heavy metals.

Clearly regulation is still necessary, although e-cigarettes can help smokers kick their tobacco habit.

It’s certainly important to ensure that non-smokers aren’t exposed to cigarette smoke, but e-cigarettes are still new and their potential health risks not fully explored.

But e-cigarettes offer potential benefits as well.

They’re frequently marketed as a tool that can be used to quit smoking traditional cigarettes. Individuals who are trying to quit should be supported in their quest for a healthier alternative.

Fortunately, city lawmakers made an effort to strike a balance – to offer protection to the community at large while not completely stifling those who smoke e-cigarettes.

The new measure bans e-cigarettes on public transportation, city school, city-owned and leased buildings and many large businesses – the same locations where smoking tobacco cigarettes is prohibited.

But e-cigarettes are permitted in designated areas of schools, like faculty rooms, and critically, in vaping shops and lounges.

This exemption is highly important, as it allows users of e-cigarettes to feel they are welcome to smoke somewhere in the city and lets interested customers sample merchandise before purchasing.

The non-smoking public can feel fully protected as well, because anyone trying to avoid smoke from e-cigarettes can simply not enter the shops.

Because of this intelligent limitation on the measure, individuals trying to make the switch from tobacco to e-cigarettes have a place to try the product.

As a result, the law avoids a problematic side effect, as it is less likely to dissuade smokers from the healthier option that e-cigarettes offer.

The measure also takes into account the troubling rise in use of e-cigarettes among teenagers nationwide, reinforcing a state law that bans the sale of the product to individuals under 18 years of age.

E-cigarettes have drawn some ire for offering flavors, like candy and bubble game, that seem to appeal to a younger demographic, though proponents of the product argue that the flavors appeal to all ages.

Regardless, it’s important to ensure that teenagers don’t become hooked on any form of cigarette.

Reinforcing the underage sales ban is a useful reminder that the simplest solution to protecting the public from cigarette smoke is preventing young adults from picking up the habit in the first place.

email: editorial@ubspectrum.com