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NYC Health Commissioner Says E-Cigarettes Must Be Banned Because They Look Like The Real Thing

Yesterday the New York City Council held what The New York Times describes as "one of the most scientifically vague and emotionally charged health committee hearings in recent memory." The scientifically vague part was the justification offered by supporters of a ban on the use of electronic cigarettes in "public places" such as bars and restaurants. The main sponsor of the proposed ban, Councilman James Gennaro, has said it is aimed at protecting children who might mistake e-cigarettes for the real thing, conclude that smoking must be cool again, and proceed directly to a pack-a-day habit that will endanger their health and shorten their lives. Perhaps recognizing that some people might deem this scenario implausible, ban backers offered a few more arguments at yesterday's hearing: The health commissioner, Dr. Thomas A. Farley, said electronic cigarettes were such a recent invention that he could not say whether they were hazardous to the health of those smoking them or those who might breathe in secondhand vapor. He said that they do put out fine particles and chemicals, and "I certainly can't guarantee that that is safe."