- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 11, 2013

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is seeking to regulate tobacco-less electronic cigarettes, three tobacco-related bills submitted to the New York City Council reveal.

The bills seek stricter regulations on tobacco products by raising the minimum age to buy from 18 to 21, prohibiting the display of cigarette ads in stores and create a $10.50 price floor for cigarette packs, the Daily Mail reported. The plan would also prohibit the use of tobacco coupons and increase fines against those selling illegal cigarettes, the Mail said.

The plan would also classify electronic cigarettes as tobacco products, even though they contain no tobacco, according to the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association.

Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor of Community Health Sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health, said the plan “would be a public health disaster.”

“I have no problems with this ordinance as a whole — raising the age, banning advertising. But [electronic-cigarettes] are a product that’s literally saving people’s lives, people who are literally at risk of disease and death, and giving them an alternative,” he told Gothamist.

There is no scientific consensus on the safety of electronic cigarettes. Though they contain no tobacco, the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about them in 2009, noting that some samples contained ingredients found in anti-freeze, the Mail reported.

However, a study released this month by Drexel University concluded that the chemicals in electronic cigarettes are harmless to users or those in their proximity.

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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