Students, professors split on Bloomberg’s e-cigarette ban

Felipe De La Hoz/WSN

As one of his last acts as mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg signed a law placing a ban on smoking electronic cigarettes at all locations where regular cigarettes are banned. Yet e-cigarette shops have still been opening up around the city. One, The Henley Vaporium, recently set up shop in Nolita.

According to the text of Bloomberg’s legislation, the Food and Drug Administration has found that some e-cigarettes contain toxins and carcinogens and the long-term effects of e-cigarettes require further study.

Carol Reiss, co-director of NYU Science Training Enhancement Program and professor of biology, supports Bloomberg’s law banning e-cigarettes, as well as his other health-related initiatives.

“He is a leader in public health legislation and executive orders,” Reiss said.

CAS sophomore Mike Saint-Antoine said e-cigarettes have positive effects.

“[E-cigarettes] shouldn’t be banned because they help people quit smoking real cigarettes,” Saint-Antoine said. “One of my friends was able to quit smoking actual cigarettes because of e-cigarettes.”

Saint-Antoine said Bloomberg’s ban infringes on basic rights.

“I think you should be able to do whatever you want with your health,” Saint-Antoine said. “If you get sick, then that’s your own fault. Freedom and personal responsibility are a great combination.”

Steinhardt junior Cayden Betzig said a benefit of e-cigarettes is that there is no risk of secondhand smoke.

“My understanding is that e-cigarettes create water vapor, not smoke, and therefore do not bother anyone around the smoker and therefore should not be banned,” Betzig said.

Efrain Azmitia, professor of biology at NYU, said e-cigarettes are a safe way to inhale nicotine.

“E-cigarettes are an effective and clean, safe [way] to deliver the drug nicotine by inhalation,” Azmitia said. “The e-cigarettes avoid the tar and many of the carcinogenic compounds found in smoke.”

Scott Sherman, professor of population health, medicine and psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine, noted that there is a lot of debate over the health impact of e-cigarettes.

“There are different risks,” Sherman said.  “You’re vaporizing nicotine which is not a terrible thing but you’re also vaporizing other chemicals to help get it into your lungs, such as propylene glycol, [which] is one chemical in the air that you’re vaporizing and nobody really knows what the effects of those other chemicals are.”

Sherman said that for now there should be restrictions on the use of e-cigarettes.

“I would be in favor of treating them for now the same way we treat cigs, that if you can’t smoke in a restaurant I believe that right now it would make sense to not be allowed to vape in the restaurant either,” Sherman said. “And then if the science changes over the course of a few years, then we can always change the policies.”

A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, Jan. 29 print edition. Afeefa Tariq is a deputy news editor. Email her at [email protected].

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