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Advocacy Group Files Lawsuit Against NYC E-Cigarette Ban

A woman smokes an e-cigarette. (credit: PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

A woman smokes an e-cigarette. (credit: PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

CBS New York (con't)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – A smokers’ advocacy group says it’s filed a lawsuit against New York City seeking to overturn its ban on electronic cigarettes.

The NYC Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment said Tuesday it filed the papers in state Supreme Court.

The Smoke-Free Air Act was signed into law during Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s last month in office. The law prohibits e-cigarettes in all areas where regular cigarettes are banned.

The lawsuit says the ban regulates both tobacco smoke exposure and e-cigarettes. The group says that violates the “One Subject Rule” of the city’s Charter.

“They can ban electronic cigarettes all day long. They cannot use the cover of the Smoke-Free Air Act,” smoking activist Audrey Silk told WCBS 880. “What the City Council did was hide behind the popular law.”

Tobacco smoke and e-cigs are, in her eyes, two different subjects so they don’t belong in the same bill.

Battery operated, the e-cigarette device heats up liquid nicotine and delivers a chemical-infused vapor. E-cigarettes are billed by many manufacturers as the cigarettes you can smoke anywhere.

The FDA plans to regulate e-cigarettes, but has not yet issued proposed rules.

The World Health Organization says the risks from e-cigarettes are undetermined. Since the products do not contain tobacco, opponents fear they create addictions among adolescents.

In October of last year, the City Council voted to raise the minimum legal age to buy cigarettes in New York City to 21, the first of its kind in the nation.

The measure applies to cigarettes, cigars and cigarillos and e-cigarettes. It also prohibits the sale of small cigars in packages of less than 20.

A spokesperson for the City Council said they’re confident the courts will uphold the lawmakers’ actions.

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