By Luis Ruiz Dominguez and Kayla McKiski
Flyers and Christmas lights surround the entrance of Hookah City. E-cigarettes, vaporizers, e-liquids and hookah’s cover every possible inch of the store, giving customers a full view of the options.
“I do vape although I don’t have my own vape.” Nicholas Timpanaro, an employee at Hookah City in Lake Grove, said. “I do it so I have something to do while I’m sitting here at work at a vape store.”
But soon, his home will be the only place he will be able to legally vape.
Electronic cigarettes, an electronic vapor product and alternative to regular cigarettes, will now be banned in public indoor locations across New York State starting Nov. 20. It will be illegal to vape in places such as bars, workplaces and restaurants.
The bill, sponsored by Senator Kemp Hannon from Nassau County, was signed into law by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Monday, Oct. 23, and it will go into effect 30 days after its signing, giving local governments time to prepare action. It is an addition to the Clean Indoor Air Act which “closes a dangerous loophole in the law, creating a stronger, healthier New York for all,” Cuomo said in a news release.
A law signed in July, banned the use of e-cigarettes in public and private school grounds and now ads e-cigarettes to the same list as tobacco products, banning it in indoor public spaces.
Many users, however, may still be unaware what they are doing will be illegal once the legislation goes into effect.
“There are lots of laws which we are not even aware of,” Dr. Leslie D. Feldman, Professor of Political Science at Hofstra University, said. “People should be given a warning and signs are also helpful.”
Although there is still not enough research to conclude if e-cigarettes are safer or less dangerous than regular cigarettes, they do still contain some toxic chemicals, Patricia Folan, Director at the Northwell Health Center for Tobacco Control, said.
“I feel like with more research you can make more accurate laws and regulations for people to follow,” Timpanaro said. “With more knowledge on the topic the laws could also be adjusted accordingly”
The dangers of vaping have become a topic of debate since the World Health Organization told marketers to take off unapproved therapy claims in 2008. While scientists are still trying to understand the effects of e-cigarettes, they do know that the aerosols, volatile organic compounds, heavy metals and lead they contain are harmful to users, according to the Surgeon General, a U.S Department of Health and Human Services website.
“We have decades of research providing information about the dangerous consequences of smoking/tobacco use,” Folan said. “The problem is that we don’t have that kind of information yet about e-cigarettes.”
E-cigarettes are being classified in the same category as regular cigarettes, which has been proved to be a leading cause in cancer. Although the effects of those exposed to secondhand electronic vapor are still unknown, two-fifths of adults believe that it causes little to no harm to children, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Research on the effects of secondhand smoke [from regular cigarettes] on humans has had ambiguous results,” Dr. Judith Jacobson, Associate Professor of Epidemiology at Columbia University, said. “However, dogs owned by human smokers have been found to be more likely to get lung cancer than dogs owned by non-smokers.”
E-cigarettes are 4.8 percent more likely to be used by twelfth-graders than regular cigarettes, according to research by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. While the health risks are still unknown, with the new law in place, New York joins the growing number of cities and states banning and placing regulations on vaping, restricting users to only be allowed to use their device in their home or tobacco outlets.