Count at least one Chicago-based organization as a strong naysayer to the City Council's vote this week to regulate electronic cigarettes identically to tobacco products under the Smoke-Free Illinois Act.
Despite viewpoints from some medical authorities that the unknowns surrounding the potential health effects of the relatively new products justify strong regulatory action, the Heartland Institute on Jan. 15 presented a more sanguine view of the products. “E-cigarettes have far fewer consequences for personal and public health, and several studies have found e-cigarettes to be an effective and viable option for smokers seeking a nicotine replacement therapy,” Heartland senior policy analyst Matthew Glans said in a statement following the Chicago City Council's 45-to-4 vote in favor of tight regulation.
Glans added, “By choosing to lump e-cigarettes into its smoking ban ordinance, Chicago has taken a lazy and shortsighted approach toward regulating what is a very different product than cigarettes.” Opponents to these regulations believe that restricting sales of e-cigarettes will dissuade smokers from turning to the devices as a smoking-cessation option.
But Chicago council members indicated this week that they will follow New York City's lead from last month in deciding that e-cigarettes should be subject to the same regulation as tobacco products. NBC's Chicago affiliate reported that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said after the vote, “Adults' ability to get the product won't be restricted. Children's ability to get the product will be restricted.”