Debate over e-cigarette ban expands

Feb 20, 2015

The fight over banning the public use of electronic cigarettes began as a struggle to compare them to tobacco smoking. As WBFO's Mike Desmond reports, the more the issue drags out before the Erie County Legislature, the more the issues expand.

Smoking E-cigarettes in downtown Buffalo.
Credit WBFO News photo by Mike Desmond

When the fight started, the goal was to expand the current ban on most public smoking of tobacco products to include e-cigarettes, some of which use nicotine in the vapor that people inhale. That's why it's often called vaping.

Vapers fought back by saying the e-cigs help keep people from starting to smoke and help smokers quit using so-called "combustion-based products" such as cigarettes or cigars.

Businessman Andrew Osborne said the proposal to ban the public use of e-cigarettes is based on bad science.

"Every time our side presents science that directly refutes science that has been spoken about today by doctors and prominent people," Osborne said.

"All we've gotten is, 'Oh well, you've got your science and we've got ours.' Well, that sounds like a very poor approach to a law that is being put in place based on science. If we refute your science, your scientific responsibility is to refute our science."

Proponents of the ban say what the science tells them is that the contents of the vapor from the devices can include carcinogenic chemicals and heavy metals as well as nicotine.

Opponents of the ban say members of the public should be able to decide if they want to enter an establishment which allows vaping, rather than having it banned by the government.