Officials in Boston have become the latest state regulators to push for a ban on electronic cigarettes.A Health Commission report in the city today approved proposals to treat e-cigarettes like tobacco products in banning their use in the workplace and restricting them to adults.Electronic cigarettes, or ‘e’ cigarettes, are battery powered plastic and metal devices featuring a liquid nicotine solution in a disposable cartridge.
The Commission also banned the sale of individual cigars, which have become an attractive option for teenagers looking for less expensive alternatives to cigarettes.The Boston ban on selling e-cigarettes to minors passed unanimously, while the workplace restriction passed 5 to 1. Margaret Reid, who oversees the commission’s tobacco control program, said: ‘A whole generation is not going to start using tobacco and nicotine products. ‘E-cigarettes, which were previously largely unregulated, are often marketed as a nicotine replacement therapy to help smokers quit. E-cigarettes devotees tout them as a way to break addiction to real cigarettes. They insist the devices address both the nicotine addiction and the behavioral aspects of smoking – the holding of the cigarette, the puffing, exhaling something that looks like smoke and the hand motion – without the more than 4,000 chemicals found in cigarettes.
Industry estimates earlier this year put U.S. sales of the devices and accessories at $200 million to $250 million annually.
The workplace ban includes using e-cigarettes on patios and decks, and loading docks. The Food and Drug Administration was barred by a federal judge earlier this year from regulating e-cigarettes as a medical device, unless they are marketed for therapeutic purposes.Tobacco control advocates have challenged the findings, saying they were too hasty and analysis too limited. New Jersey is the only state that specifically bans use of e-cigarettes where regular smoking isn’t allowed, while New York lawmakers have also moved for a state-wide ban.Under the new Boston regulations, they must now be placed behind store counters and cannot be sold to anyone under 18.