Friday, Aug 22, 2014 03:39 pm est

Group hopes to overturn e-cigarette ban

Posted on March 31, 2014 | by Graham Rapier


The New York City Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment filed a lawsuit on March 25 in the New York County Supreme Court to overturn the ban on electronic cigarettes — one of Michael Bloomberg’s last acts as mayor.

Audrey Silk, founder of NYC CLASH, said the Clean Air Act was originally about the protection of non-smokers.

“But their ban isn’t about protection, it’s about exposure and keeping smoking from being regular again,” Silk said.

NYC CLASH maintains that the ban is unlawful because it violates the One Subject Rule in the New York State Constitution.

“Private or local bills [can] embrace only one subject, expressed in title,” according to article three of the state constitution.

NYC CLASH lawyer Edward Paltzik said the city council exceeded its lawful authority by allowing the ban.

“By making the smoke-free air act also about e-cigarettes, they have violated the New York State constitution,” Paltzik said.

Tisch sophomore Jacqueline Ridberg has never tried an e-cigarette, but she said there do not seem to be adverse health effects.

“For those trying to quit, the habitual act of smoking an e-cig really helps get people off tobacco,” Ridberg said. “Frankly I don’t see why anyone is anti-e-cig.”

CAS sophomore Aleah Halverson said there is not enough research to know whether e-cigarettes negatively affect users, so Bloomberg’s decision was a good one.

“As someone who doesn’t like to have smoke blown in [his] face, I prefer when smokers use them over regular cigarettes,” Halverson said. “[But] they should be banned until further testing proves they are safe, just like any other drug.”

Only 4.9 percent of college students have ever used e-cigarettes, according to a survey from August 2013 in the Drug and Alcohol Dependence Journal. Researchers polled over 4,000 students from eight colleges.

CAS junior Mark Muster said the principle underlying the cigarette ban applies to e-cigarettes too.

“The cigarette ban exists because a significant group of people didn’t want to be in the presence of smoke,” Muster said. “I still think people should be able to smoke in a bar, but enough people thought the opposite, so that’s how it is. I think it’s being blown out of proportion.”

The de Blasio administration has not released a statement with regard to the suit filed and could not be reached for comment. The city is legally required to respond to the complaint filed by NYC CLASH within 20 days, according to the summons of the lawsuit.

City Council spokeswoman Robine Levine said the city council is not backing down.

“Our legislation ensures the goals of the Smoke-Free Air Act are not undermined and protects the public against these unregulated substances,” Levine said in a statement to Reuters.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, March 31 print edition. Graham Rapier is a contributing writer. Email him at 


  • Robert Copia

    On March 23, 2014, the New York Times published an article by Matt Richtel, “Selling A Poison, Liquid Nicotine For E-Cigs”. The article is based on the FACT that pure liquid nicotine is extremely dangerous to have around. Ingesting it can kill a person and exposure to the skin is also very dangerous.
    E-liquid should be prepared by a chemist or someone with training to deal with hazardous materials. In regards to the finished product the cartridges or the bottles of e-liquid, pure liquid nicotine accounts from zero to 3.6% of the solution. If you get it on your hands wash them, if some leaks into your mouth rinse thoroughly with water.
    E-cig liquid and cartridges should be kept out of reach of children along with other hazardous items around the house such as prescription drugs, cosmetics, cleaners, plants toothpaste etc.
    Fluoride toothpaste contains sodium fluoride which is a hazardous waste product from making fertilizer. It is used in rat poison and pesticides.
    Children have died from eating toothpaste and fluoride treatments.
    Nicotine gum and lozenges are also hazardous if ingested by children.
    Mr. Richtel reports that there were 1351 calls to poison control and 365 emergency room visits in 2013, involving e-liquid.
    The Centers for Disease Control reports :
    1. 832,000 people were seen in the ER room due to unintentional poisonings in 2013.
    2. 91% of the 39,000 poisoning deaths in 2013 were the result of drug overdose.
    3. 60,000 children each year are in the ER room each year because of drug poisoning.
    The New York Times had the paper and the ink necessary to provide information on other poisoning dangers around the home.
    They chose not to which makes me believe that the liquid nicotine article is part of the campaign to put ecigs out of business and protect the Pharmaceutical Industry, which sells expensive smoking cessation products which include the mind altering, psychiatric drugs Chantix and Zyban and their dangerous side effects, suicide risk etc.
    BLOOMBERG News, Feb 19, 2014, “Glaxo Memo Shows Drug Industry Lobbying On E-Cigarettes”
    This PROPOGANDA campaign makes ecigs out as a “GATEWAY” which will lead children to actual smoking. RIDICOLOUS.
    The Center For Disease Control, “33% OF 8TH graders drank alcohol in the last 30 days”
    National Institute of Health, “23% of high school seniors used marijuana in the last 30 days and 6.5% use it daily. These facts do not seem to concern the politicians..
    A fear campaign aimed at ‘hopelessly addicted smokers” to dissuade them from trying a “personal nicotine vaporizer”. How disgusting.

    • JayfromBrooklyn

      So is household bleach.

  • AudreySilk

    Perhaps in my zeal to explain C.L.A.S.H.’s position I used words to that effect but let me clarify my quote as it appears above:

    The sole purpose of the SFAA, since its inception in 1988 and in all its amendments prior to the inclusion of “the use of e-cigs” has been “the protection of the public from involuntary second-hand smoke exposure.”

    Not a single one of the council’s six justifications has anything to do with the subject of smoking around others or protecting citizens or workers from exposure to secondhand smoke.

    Banning the use of e-cigs is really about targeting personal behavior through regulation of a product rather than about protecting citizens from involuntary tobacco smoke exposure.

    It has always been our position that the proponents’ ulterior motive for smoking bans was never about secondhand smoke protection except as a scare tactic to turn the mob against an unpopular minority and to control the smoker, not the smoke, by systematically eliminating opportunities to light up.

    Protesting all along that they were up to no such thing, the inclusion of harmless water vapor now proves it.

    All of the reasons given by Bloomberg and the Council for banning e-cigs are that an adult’s choice to smoke, and now vape, is “indefensible” and “unacceptable” –
    an utter contradiction to what the DOH web site says even today [1] — that
    even the thought of it must be censored and have codified that intolerance into
    an Act we’ve been adamantly told was not designed to do that.


    [1] Q. This is America. Don’t citizens have a right to smoke, even if it hurts them?

    A. Yes, smokers are free to continue to smoke—as long as they don’t expose others involuntarily to cancer-causing chemicals. American democracy has always
    created laws to protect society from threats to our health and safety. Sometimes limits must be imposed on the right of one individual to engage in behavior that, while acceptable if it affects the individual only, is harmful to others.

    – Answers to Common Objections to Smoke-Free Workplace Laws. NYC Dept. of Health.

  • crunchy2k

    On March 23, 2014, the New York Times published an article by Matt Richtel, “Selling A Poison, Liquid Nicotine For E-Cigs”. It was typical alarmist diatribe to sell papers. What we have learned since the E.U. okayed regulating e-cigarettes as only a consumer product is nicotine is not the poison we have been lead to believe. A comprehensive study of Swedish Snus users showed no health differences between life long Snus users and the general population. In the UK, there have been three attempted suicides by e-liquid, one woman trying twice, and no deaths. It is now thought the LD50 limit should be 500-1000mg/kg body weight. A typical e-cigarette contains 1.2% nicotine. One could say it is as safe as caffeine in its action on the body. E-liquid does not contain nitrosamines, the diluents used have been re-certified by the FDA for both inhalation and ingestion in 1987. I quit a 40 year smoking habit the day I started vaping. E-cigarettes and Personal Vaporizers are a tobacco product killer.

profile portrait
Felipe De La Hoz

Multimedia Editor | Felipe De La Hoz is a Colombian national studying journalism at the College of Arts and Sciences. Having been born in Colombia and raised in the United States, Mexico and Brazil, Felipe is a trilingual travel aficionado and enjoys working in varied and difficult environments. Apart from his photography, Felipe enjoys investigative reporting and interviews, interviewing the likes of Colombian ex-M-19 guerrilla fighters and controversial politician Jimmy McMillan. He has covered everything from governmental conferences to full-blown riots, as well as portraiture shoots and dining photography. Having worked under Brazilian photojournalists for Reuters and AFP, Felipe hopes to one day work on demanding journalistic projects and contribute to the global news cycle.

Ann Schmidt

News Editor | Ann is a liberal studies sophomore who lived in Florence during her freshman year. She plans on double-majoring in journalism and political science and is always busy. She is constantly making lists and she loves to laugh.


Daniel Yeom

Daniel started at the Features desk of WSN last Spring, writing restaurant reviews whilst indulging on free food and consequently getting fat. Last Fall, he was the dining editor, and he this semester he is senior editor. Daniel is in Gallatin (living the dream) studying Food & Travel Narratives, incorporating aspects of Food Studies, Journalism, and Media, Culture, and Communication. He loves food more than life itself.

Hannah Luu

Deputy Multimedia Editor | Hannah Luu is a ridiculously great Deputy Multimedia Editor. She is a sophomore from Northern California. If you think Northern California means San Francisco you might need to closely examine a map. She is passionate about NPR and being half Asian.

  • How to join:

    The Washington Square News holds open weekly budget meetings at its office located at 838 Broadway every Sunday. All are welcome to attend, no matter your background in journalism, writing, or reporting. Specific times for meetings by desk are listed below. If you wish to talk to an editor before you attend, feel free to check out the Staff page.

    5 P.M. 6 P.M. 6 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 7 P.M.

    Applying for an editor position: Applications for editor positions during the fall or spring semesters are available twice each academic year and can be found here when posted. Applications for the Fall 2012 semester are closed, but check back for Spring 2013. Those who wish to apply are urged to publish pieces in the newspaper and contact current editors for shadowing.

    History of the Washington Square News:

    The Washington Square News is the official daily student newspaper of New York University and serves the NYU, Greenwich Village, and East Village communities. Founded as an independent newspaper in 1973, the WSN allows its undergraduate writers and photographers to cover campus and city news and continues to grow its strong body of award-winning journalists and photographers.

  • The WSN has a circulation of about 60,000 and can be found in over a hundred purple bins distributed throughout campus. It is published Monday through Thursday during the fall and spring semesters and online on Friday, with additional special issues published in the summer. The newspaper recently revamped its website during the Fall 2012 semester.

    Like few campus newspapers in the country, the paper is editorially and financially independent from the university and is solely responsible for selling advertisements to fund its production. The WSN, including its senior staff, is run solely by current undergraduate students and the business-division is largely student-operated as well.

    A Board of Directors comprised of alumni, NYU professors and working news media professionals serves as advisors to the paper. Board members have no control in the WSN's editorial policy or newsroom operations. Alumni of the newspaper are established and leading journalists in such news organizations as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NBC news, ABC news, Fox News, and USA Today.