MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The vaping health crisis has spawned a host of new local laws regulating e-cigarette products, but now there’s a proposal to regulate their outdoor use.
Nassau County is proposing a ban at outdoor county recreational facilities, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reports.
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Lawmakers want a vaping ban at all county parks, playgrounds, athletic fields and outdoor theaters. Everywhere where cigarette smoking is already disallowed, e-cigarettes would be, too.
“I’d love to see it done because vape, it’s just one big pile of smoke in your face,” one resident said.
“That’s a ridiculous rule because there is not enough employees to enforce it,” another resident said.
Officials say violators could face a $250 fine. So what message are they trying to send?
“That we don’t want to normalize vaping in our society,” Nassau County Legislator Debra Mule said.
The proposal goes even further than the recent New York State ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarette products, which an appeals court has temporarily halted.
“This is a new technology, and unfortunately, too many people are guinea pigs in this experiment and it’s not going well,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said.
Vapor industry groups call outdoor bans “extreme,” saying vapor is not the same as cigarette smoke.
“It is too much because America is a free country and everybody has rights,” one resident said.
But given the spate of recent lung illnesses and deaths, doctors say the jury is out on the impact of secondhand vapor.
“We know that there is particulate matter, that there is aerosolized matter, that there are traces of heavy metals and a lot of other things which are known to be toxicants for lungs in the secondhand vape smoke as well,” said Dr. Shetal Shah, with the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The bill allows vaping, along with smoking, in county parking lots and golf courses, but not anywhere officials say families congregate.
“It wouldn’t be fair to have to expose our children to that when we don’t know if it could be bad for them,” one parent said.
Even vaping advocates agree regulating the use of all sorts of smoking around children just makes sense.
The Mayo Clinic reported this week that lung damage in some of the people who became ill after vaping resembles a burn from chemical exposure. Nationwide, there have been 800 cases of lung illness related to vaping and more than a dozen people have died.