Though Mayor Emmanuel Rahm has strongly focused and committed to ban electronic cigarettes in the state of Chicago, his plans appear to have hit a dead end. The effort of Emmanuel to outlaw electronic cigarettes where tobacco has been banned has hit a snag. Instead, a large public support for e-cigars came out to challenge the mayor’s focus and suppers for vapours won this time round. Emmanuel’s target was to regulate electronic cigarettes by viewing them as tobacco products. However, the opposition outpoured in large numbers and managed to have the plan shelved. The city council voted to have tobacco products banned from sale within 500 feet (5 times the previous recommendation) of Chicago schools.
If the ban proposed by Emmanuel had passed, electronics cigarettes would have been sentenced to a life behind retail sellers’ counters while adults would have been prohibited from using them in public places. What really are the key arguments that saved the electronic cigarettes? It truly boiled down the entire vapour. Alderman started by questioning the dangers associated with e-cigars. He debated by asking the members of the house whether being exposed to e-cigar vapours was in anyway more dangerous than being near the steam emerging from water boiling in a pot. He also debated the possible impact that banning e-cigars would have to city’s smokers. A large number argued that banning e-cigars would discourage more people shifting to it and raise consumption of tobacco.
Alderman Leslie Hairston indicated that a ban was not reasonable. “We are only punishing people for their efforts not to make any smoke. You cannot get it either way. You cannot one day wake up and say ‘we will tax the smoke coming out of your cigar,’ and the subsequent day say that ‘for those who cannot afford cigarettes and want to take smoke vapor, we want to decide that that cannot be done too’.” Leslie proceeded to indicate that there lacked scientific evidence to show that electronic cigarette was dangerous to users. “No proof has been presented scientifically showing water vapour in the atmosphere can harm people. If that is the case, all humidifiers and water boiling in restaurants is gone.”
To show council members what really an e-cigar was, Alderman Brendan Reilly dipped his hand in his pocket, pulled out an e-cigar, and took a puff. He explained to the council that the reason for him to buy e-cigars was an effort to stop smoking. As he continued to demonstrate how electronic cigarettes work, he outpoured his genuine concerns. “Where this really saddens me is when you start looking at e-cigars as tobacco. Many tobacco users are turning to e-cigars as one of the most effective programs to help them quit smoking.” Alderman Joe Moreno was in agreement with Reilly and argued that the council was concerning itself to protecting people who did not have any threat targeting them. “I do not see the importance of protecting people from what I always create when preparing tea. Indeed, I see nothing wrong when I have my ten year old daughter when preparing tea.”
Another huge concern raised in the council was taxes that were connected to cigarettes and expected impacts on the public by changing their classifications. Alderman Ray Suarez argued that while adding taxes on cigarettes would discourage people from smoking, banning e-cigars goes against the same initiative. “At what particular instant do we halt regulating individuals’ lives and presenting safety as an excuse when no documentation is evident show this is a hazard,” he posed. At the moment, the ban on electronic cigarettes will not happen in the city of Chicago. Indeed, electronic cigarettes have won and we are hoping that other similar stories such as this can come to light. In your view, is the decision taken by Chicago going to have an impact on other cities to avoid banning electronic cigarettes.