After Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti signs a measure passed by the Los Angeles City Council, students on campus will no longer be able to smoke electronic cigarettes indoors.
According to the Washington Post, smoking decreased by 42 percent for women and 25 percent for men between 1980 and 2012. Former and non-smokers alike, however, have found solace in e-cigarettes, battery-powered devices that simulate smoking and have been promoted by e-cigarette companies as a safer alternative to other tobacco products.
The industry suffered a blow on Tuesday when City Council officials voted to treat e-cigarettes like regular cigarettes — essentially banning their use in parks, restaurants, nightclubs and most workplaces.
Students on campus have been split on the issue, with many questioning a lack of scientific data warranting such a ban.
“I don’t see a good reason as to why this would be banned from public areas and indoor spaces,” said Timmy Kang, a senior majoring in occupational therapy. “Honestly, there needs to be more research done on the side effects of both vaping and inhaling the secondhand smoke generated by e-cigarettes.”
The use of e-cigarettes is known as “vaping” as the devices emit water vapor rather than the smoke of traditional tobacco products.
Los Angeles is joining a growing number of cities and states that treat e-cigarettes the same as cigarettes. The District of Columbia and five states already include e-cigarettes in their anti-smoking bans, and New York City and Chicago have also recently moved to do the same.
A common argument against smoking cigarettes in public spaces is secondhand smoke, an issue that has students divided on the effects of e-cigarettes vapor.
“I think [the ban] is kind of stupid, because if it doesn’t cause secondhand smoke issues then there’s no point in banning it in indoor places,” said Joo Lee, a freshman majoring in human biology. “Without solid research, there is really no reason to ban it.”
The practice of using e-cigarettes has gained recent popularity amongst many young adults in past years. Some students, however, are welcoming the ban.
“I think that this ban is justified,” said Jay Won, a freshman majoring in business administration. “Even though we don’t know if the secondhand smoke is really as bad as the secondhand smoke from regular cigarettes because of a lack of research, the act of smoking an e-cigarette generates a perception amongst younger kids that it’s socially acceptable.”
This is exactly what many health professionals are worried about — the destigmatization of the act of smoking.
“We don’t want to risk e-cigarettes undermining a half-century of successful tobacco control,” Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Jonathan Fielding told the Los Angeles Times.
Irene Kim, an undecided freshman, believes e-cigarettes might bring cigarettes back into vogue.
“Vaping has really gained popularity amongst middle and high school kids, and I don’t think it’s good to foster a new generation of smokers,” Kim said.
The new ordinance is expected to be implemented in the coming weeks and will be banned from most indoor spaces, except for vaping lounges. Fines will range from $100 to $500.
“We don’t want more people to become addicted to smoking,” said Philip Ahn, a freshman majoring in history. “Even though there may be those who use it to stop a bad smoking habit, there have to be some who become addicted to smoking because of e-cigarettes.”