With the recent success in New York City resulting in the passage of two potentially strong laws to combat the tobacco industry, the American Heart Association was preparing to transition to a new Mayor's administration, new Speaker and many new Council Members. Little did we know that we had one last battle waiting for us! Just before Thanksgiving, New York City Council notified us that they will consider a proposal to include the use of electronic cigarettes in the city's Smoke Free Air Act.
Currently, New Yorkers are able to use electronic cigarettes in nearly any workplaces, including bars and restaurants. This creates a great deal of confusion for business owners who have diligently enforced the smoking ban for a decade now. While tobacco companies have made claims that electronic cigarettes are a 'safe alternative' for smokers, no credible health agency has confirmed this. It is appropriate that we regulate their use in order to protect the social norms against 'smoking' any type of cigarettes. The timeline will be intense, with a committee hearing already scheduled for Wednesday, December 4th. All Council bills must be voted on by December 19th before the end of this Council session. With the deadline near, let's see if we can provide one more victory for our hearts this session!