Aug. 25, 2009
-- Legislator Jon Cooper of the Suffolk County, New York Legislature put forth a piece of legislation which determined that people who have quit smoking using nicotine vaporizers (inaccurately nicknamed “electronic cigarettes”) are still “smoking” and should be subject to the smoking ordinance of Suffolk County. These nicotine vaporizers use a heating element to vaporize propylene glycol (the liquid used in fog machines and asthma inhalers), which has a small concentration of nicotine in it. These devices help people addicted to nicotine to avoid tar and other toxic chemicals that are associated with burning tobacco cigarettes and kill hundreds of thousands of people a year.
There is no substantial evidence that these devices do any harm to the user or bystanders around the user. Despite the plethora of evidence provided to the Suffolk County legislature that shows evidence that these devices are no more harmful that consuming a hot dog, they have determined that the “stress, fear and confusion” which the public could potentially feel due to the presence of the fog was sufficient reason to force vapers (people who utilize this device to avoid tobacco cigarettes) to follow the Suffolk County smoking ordinance and utilize these devices only in areas where smoking is allowed.
This restriction would push thousands of non-smoking Suffolk County residents who utilize nicotine vaporizers into smoking areas where they would be exposed to the second hand smoke and toxic chemicals that they quit smoking to avoid. This is a clear violation of the civil rights of non-smokers who wish to avoid the toxic chemicals given off by cigarette smoke. This law was passed based on public fear, rather than fact, and the total disregard for the safety of these former smokers is an unjustifiable disgrace. Suffolk County’s Health and Human Services Committee, which is supposed to protect the health of Suffolk County residents, has put “psychological discomfort” of the minority ahead of physical health and that is an unforgivable offense.