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Los Angeles may be next to restrict e-cigs

A proposed ordinance would treat them like traditional tobacco cigarettes

There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground on electronic cigarettes; people either love them or hate them. And those who hate them tend to be in positions of power.

The Los Angeles city council is the latest to consider outlawing the gadgets. A pending ordinance would basically treat e-cigs as though they were traditional, tobacco-burning cigarettes, outlawing them in public places.

The proposed ordinance made it through a committee on Monday and is now headed to the full city council. The committee acted after hearing from Los Angeles County’s public health director, Jonathan Fielding, who said the e-cigs tend to make smoking socially acceptable, encouraging young people to take up smoking.

“We don’t want to risk e-cigarettes undermining a half century of successful tobacco control,” he said, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Opponents of the measure say it would simply drive smokers back to tobacco.

Promoters of e-cigs argue that they are much safer than traditional cigarettes, which release nicotine as a byproduct of burning tobacco, a process that releases deadly tars into the lungs of smokers and those nearby.

E-cigarettes electrically heat nicotine, releasing it as vapor, giving users their nicotine fix without the dangerous tars and minus the fire hazards of traditional cigarettes.

But a study released late last year disputed the contention that e-cigs are an effective way to keep teens from taking up the smoking habit.

UC San Francisco researchers said last November that the youths they studied using e-cigarettes were more likely to be trying to quit, but also were less likely to have stopped smoking and were smoking more, not less.

“We are witnessing the beginning of a new phase of the nicotine epidemic and a new route to nicotine addiction for kids,” according to senior author Stanton A. Glantz, PhD, UCSF professor of medicine and director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at UCSF.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that the majority of adolescent e-cigarette users also smoke regular cigarettes, and that the percentage of middle and high school students who use e-cigarettes more than doubled from 2011 to 2012. An estimated 1.78 million U.S. students had used the devices as of 2012, said the CDC.

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