ALBANY, N.Y. (AP/CBSNewYork) — New York lawmakers on Tuesday advanced a bill that would make the state the first to ban electronic cigarettes, devices touted on the Internet in ads promising all the pleasures of smoking without the deadly health threat.

Health officials say e-cigarettes are just another addictive habit, one that can hook kids early and legally on smoking. But advocates who have used the devices to quit or cut down smoking tobacco call the battery-operated smokes a miracle.

“E-cigarettes are for some people a tool for enabling them to continue their nicotine addictions when they are someplace where they can’t smoke,” said Assembly Health Committee Chairman Richard Gottfried, whose panel passed the bill Tuesday. “I don’t think that’s good for public health.”

READ MORE: E-Cigarettes: The Good, The Bad & The Smokey

The Manhattan Democrat said the manufacturers should prove to the federal Food and Drug Administration that e-cigarettes are an effective smoking cessation aid in order to sell them to adults.

Advocates — who say there is a nationwide grass-roots movement to keep e-cigarettes available — say the proof is in their health.

SOUND-OFF: Are e-cigarettes safe?  Are the politicians doing the right thing or overstepping their bounds?  Let Us Know

“I find it difficult to believe that my wheezing and productive morning cough would have magically disappeared sometime between March 2009 and now if I had continued smoking, waiting for someone to proclaim e-cigarettes 100 percent safe,” said Elaine Keller of Springfield, Va. She is vice president of the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association.

“Why do politicians and organizations that claim to be protecting public health want to take away options that could save smokers’ lives?” she said Tuesday.

The bill’s sponsor was moved to act by the flood of Internet ads for the products and sales at shopping malls.

“So I did some research,” said Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, a Manhattan Democrat and 20-year smoker who quit more than a dozen years ago. “I found what is in the e-cigarettes is a mystery.”

She wants to ban them in New York until they are more thoroughly investigated and regulated.

Her bill was approved in the Assembly last year but stalled in the Senate, which was then controlled by Democrats. Senate Health Committee Chairman Kemp Hannon, a Republican, said the bill likely will be considered by his committee and a hearing may be held, but it’s too early to predict what will happen with the proposal.

E-cigarettes have prompted debate nationwide since they became widely available in the United States in 2006. But as either a tobacco cigarette substitute or a much more extensively tested and restricted drug-delivery device, the future of e-cigarettes will likely be decided by the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA lost a court case last year after trying to treat e-cigarettes as drug-delivery devices, rather than tobacco products, because e-cigarettes heat nicotine extracted from tobacco.

“Maybe it stops some from smoking, but maybe it helps some kid start,” said Russ Sciandra, director of the Center for a Tobacco Free New York.

Powerful lobbies are involved. If treated as a tobacco product, e-cigarettes would avoid the research and trials required of competitors in the pharmaceutical industry, including anti-smoking patches and inhalers. As a medical device, e-cigarettes could draw opposition from that powerful lobby as a fresh and less expensive competitor.

The supporters of e-cigarettes are now watching New York “very closely. They kind of snuck up on us,” said Keller.

She said she has been tobacco free since March 2009 after 45 years of smoking. She said her group amounts to a grass-roots effort of those who feel the government has blocked this “miracle” product.

“There is no industry support on this thing at all,” Keller said of the organization. “We want to keep it this way so no one can say we are a shill for the tobacco, drug or e-cigarette industry.”

She also tries to recast the safety question.

“I can’t point to anything to say it’s 100 percent safe,” Keller said. “The thing is, it only needs to be safer. The only standard is that it’s safer than smoking.”

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (27)
  1. vaporizers says:

    Wow thats an amazing information, yould it help me utilize vaporizers in some way?

  2. Dumb for adults says:

    I have smoke for 25 years!!!!I have tried to stop smoking for 10 years on and off. Patch, gum, stone cold nothing has work. 3 months ago I order my first e-cig with little will I was able to stop smoking. In 3 months I have stop

    whizzing,coughing a lung up. Really that what it felt like the Pain was really bad. After 3 month vaping on e-cig. I don’t whiz, cough,. I can smell again, my taste buds have came back. My health is better just in my breathing alone. Why on earth would you want to ban e-cigs for adult?????? So i can go back to smoking and die a pain full death????? Not all of us have the will to stop thank god e-cigs are out or few years from now I be on oxygen.

    Mybe I still will need one at some point because of the years of smoking i puton my lungs but at least it not painful any more waking up to painfull coughing, whizzing, bad taste, bad smell. If you want to ban something ban smoking not e-cigs. atleast that would make sense.

  3. MasterLeeMochow says:

  4. Lynn says:

    These government nanny losers have absolute faith in their own superior judgement because My God Man! We simply CANNOT have unsupervised adults out there making their own decisions!!!!

  5. Coralie says:

    I have tried for 8 of the 10 years I smoked to quit. The patch, the gum, the lozenge, Wellbutrin, Chantix, support groups…my next step was hypnotherapy…until I found the ecig. It still took me over a year to completely quit but I reduced and reduced until I got there. I have been smoke free for 4 months. The additives, not the nicotine alone, were what kept me going back after each quit attempt. It upset my emotional balance so much to quit that I continually was lured back. Ecigs worked because I could take it at my own pace and wean myself off little by little, without giving up the hand to mouth action at the same time. My 6 and 4 year old have not had asthma attacks since I quit, and they also don’t have an angry mama like they did on each of my other quit attempts. To remove these from the market is a violation of personal freedom, and a clear indication that Rosenthal, New York State, and the FDA care more about the money lost from so many people successfully quitting than it is about health. These are not marketed towards children. They are for adults already addicted to cigarettes who need to stop smoking, or who wish to reduce the harm on their bodies and those around them.

  6. SW says:

    “E-cigarettes are for some people a tool for enabling them to continue their nicotine addictions when they are someplace where they can’t smoke,”
    And caffeine is an addiction enabling people to drive to work every morning without getting into a car wreck. E-cigs are for some people an alternative to smoking.

    Rosenthal finds e-cigs a mystery? Did she not read FDA study reports about them? Did she not research the literature given to her from last year? There’s all kinds of lab reports and studies made available to these legislaters who continue to completey ignore scientific facts. Just like all the phone calls, letters, and faxes that were ignored.

    “Maybe it stops some from smoking, but maybe it helps some kid start,” said Russ Sciandra, director of the Center for a Tobacco Free New York.
    Oh, they’ve definitely stopped people from smoking. Helps some kid start? I think everyone is in agreement that they would hope that wouldn’t happen. Of course if they were regulated at tobacco products, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion. With the age restriction of credit card use, record of purchases, the high maintenance of using vaporizers, and responsible parenting, I think you can lay that argument to rest.

  7. Karen from Wayne County says:

    Are they safer?? in one word Yes!!! going from 4000+ chemical compounds down to less than 12 and all of the compounds already being FDA approved it’s really irresponsible of the comittee to try to ban these. I have been an ex smoker for over 3 moths using “e-cigarettes” I have tried all of the prescription medications with very ugly side effects, I was able to be smoke free in 2 days after 25 years of smoking. It’s the only thing that has worked for me.No I don’t want these sold to minors, but to take away the ecigs from the over 18 group is sentencing them to death. I will not die from using an e-cig, It’s dang near certain I will if I had to go back to smoking

  8. maxwell_edison says:

    I researched the truth about e-cigs and independent research determined they are 1,000 times safer than cigarettes. Forcing me to go back to cigarettes is sentencing me to death. Everything in the e-cig is food safe except nicootine. Banning the sale to minors is a no brainer, but take my e-cigarette from my cold dead hands. Everything else is a ‘smoke’ screen to protect the tobacco company and Big Pharma interests.

  9. Ted says:

    I do not smoke but my son did. He smoked a pack a day for at least 10 years. I bought him an electronic cigarette this summer. He’s getting his nicotine and it is down to 25% now. He hasn’t had a cigarette in 7 months. Ban guns but not electronic cigarettes.

  10. none says:

    Money! Money!! Money!!! Thats all this state is thinking about!!!! Not about the Health of the people.

    over 300 people a year die from Alcohol!!! (2009)


    BUT E-Cigs are the main “HEALTH ISSUE”…..

  11. ebenezer whoopie says:

    just stay away from my cigars. come after my cigars and there will be trouble.

  12. wouldntyouliketoknow says:

    I have quit smoking for four months since I started using my E-cig.
    I don’t like the term “e-cig” since this is NOTHING like a real cigarette



    I hope you all rot, because my lungs no longer are, thanks to my PERSONAL VAPORIZER, and NO THANKS TO THE GOVERNMENT!

  13. Superfrog says:

    We need to wake up. We have servicemen dying for someone elses freedom (which is noble, btw) while ours are be taken away. For what, the almighty $$$. There is no secret, Big Tobacco stands to loose alot. Big Pharmacy stands to loose even more with thier smoke-patch/pill-quit- Relapse – smoke-patch/pill-quit- relapse…, and the Govnmt stands to loose all of that tax money. At what cost, YOUR HEALTH. If they’re doing this with Personal Vaporizers, what else are they doing this to and we don’t see it? I feel better, I smell better, AND I enjoy vaping. I challenge the Govenment to stop the BS, misinformation, and flat out lies and PROVE how this is dangerous to me, not how it’s dangerous to your bottom line. No, not challenge, I dare you to.

  14. Glenn Cate says:

    I was a smoker of 30+ years and had tried many different ways to quit from cold turkey, patches, etc. NOTHING worked more than a week, that is until I tried my first personal vaporizer (I refuse to call them an e-cig as they are not related to the deadly cancer sticks). I have now been smoke free for almost 3 months and stopped the first day I tried my PV. I can breath better, taste better and smell better and for that I am happy that this device was available for me.

    Smoking is an addiction and all alternates should be available to try. If these are bad enough for us that they need to be banned then what does that say about cigarettes that we know can kill you? It says that this is clearly about the $$$ and nothing else. Big Pharmacies and Big Tobacco are scared of these devices because they can see that they work, period.

    1. Glenn Cate says:

      I would also like to add that I have converted 11 other smokers and they have converted others and it continues to spread. I am most proud of the fact that I have converted my wife and grown children and now they will all live longer because this choice was available to them, do not take that away for others.

      1. FREEDOM says:

        I too have converted several former smokers and they others. That is why I think this is suddenly a big issue – they are starting to see a dent in their tax revenue. They don’t care about our health, they just want our money.

  15. John Fontana says:

    E-cigs helped me quit smoking after 25 years. I can now run without fighting for my breath, my blood pressure and pulse rate has improved, I have a singing voice again, and my loved ones are never in danger of exposure to second-hand smoke. Rosenthal says that what is in them is a mystery, yet a recent study revealed that what is in them is 10000 times safer than regular cigarettes, and that we know much more about what is in e-cigarettes than regular cigarettes. This is an example of misinformed idiots attempting to govern.

  16. lea says:

    this is the first time i havent wanted a cigarette in 18 years, and THATS why the tobacco industry is paying so much to have this banned! think people! dont take away something that will save millions.

  17. cyberwolf says:

    It’s a pretty said day when tax revenue from cigarettes trumps public health. I can think of no other reason that NY state would even consider such legislation. The statement that e-cigarettes are dangerous is completely unfounded and the case has already been made for tobacco harm reduction through any means possible – including electronic cigarettes. The NY state legislature needs to understand that they are not helping people avoid a new product with minimal potential risks, but are eliminating the single most effective product to help smokers avoid deadly cigarettes that contain maximum proven risk. Of course, they wouldn’t reap the benefits of the taxes on $10 a pack either…

  18. Elaine Keller says:

    There is only one reason why the contents of e-cigarettes remain a mystery to Ms. Rosenthal: She does not read her emails and faxes. Dr. Michael Siegel of Boston University School of Public Health emailed all of the Health Committee members informing them that his research, published in the December issue of the Journal of Public Health, reviewed 16 lab studies on e-cigarettes and found nothing harmful cited in any of the reports–including the FDA’s report which was misrepresented in the FDA;s press conference. CASAA foillowed up by faxing copies to the HC members, along with the journal article.

  19. Michael Reilly says:

    I have noticed many of these politicians and anti e-cigarette zealots are spreading mis-information. Either they are misinformed or they are purposely deceiving the public by saying such nonsense as “there is antifreeze in the liquid.” Adults do not need their “protection”. If they don’t want to use an e-cigarette, then don’t use one. Don’t make it illegal for me to buy one. I’m perfectly capable of doing my own research or making my own e-liquid thank-you-very-much.

  20. yvilla says:

    Linda Rosenthal reminds me of a spoiled child who sticks her fingers in her ears, screws her eyes closed, and shakes her head wildly, utterly refusing to listen. I know that she has been personally handed and mailed reams of scientific articles, lab reports, and expert opinions over the past year, all attesting to the relative safety of e-cigs, and the huge potential they have for improving public health through increased use by addicted smokers whio switch to them. Yet she still claims their composition is “a mystery”.

    Furthermore, she specifically disregarded a letter sent to all the Assembly Health Committee members before this vote took place by Dr. Michael Siegel, author of an article on e-cigs just published in the December issue of the Journal of Public Health Policy.

    Dr. Siegel informed committee members that the purported justifications for the sales ban as laid out in the bill’s memo were indeed factually inaccurate, and warned them that “passage of Assembly Bill A01468 would force thousands of ex-smokers in New York State to return to cigarette smoking by taking electronic cigarettes off the market in the state. In addition, it would prevent current smokers who want to quit from successfully quitting smoking using the most effective method currently available – vaping – thus causing immense damage to the public’s health”.

    Great job Linda!

  21. Kevin M says:

    If every smoker in New York would switch to e-cigs tomorrow, the state would be bankrupt overnight from the lack of cig taxes. The tobacco companies got their asses sued off, yet nanny state politicos make more profits off tobacco then the manufacturers ever did. This is about one thing and only one thing.


    Shame on the legislature for even considering this. I personally know a few people who have completely quit smoking with the help of e-cigs, and I’m working on doing so myself. But they’re not really worried about the health of citizens, or people having a tool to improve their health.

    But go ahead and pass it, I don’t care, as we’re out. We’re headed to Florida where there is no income tax, no lame gun laws, and less nanny-state.regulation in general.

  22. J says:


  23. jerseyjoey says:

    I noticed the day that Berlin wall came down Russia became free and America became more Government Controlling, the final death knoll was the Trade Towers now we are lemmimgs of the system, dare not speak out for if you do your a Hater.

  24. Dumba Merican says:

    Thank the Lord that the government is watching out for my best interests. I’m just a lowly brain dead citizen who cannot make decisions for myself. I don’t deserve freedom of choice.

    For example, just today, I wound up putting my left shoe on my right foot, and my right shoe on my left hand. I was a mess. We need more government regulation on shoes too!!!!!

    1. someone says:

      Write to your legislator. I’m sure a bill could be passed to make all shoes the same… as long as they could be taxed appropriately.

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