Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz signed legislation banning the use of electronic cigarettes in public places, Friday afternoon.
Poloncarz, flanked by Legislator Peter Savage and Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein, stressed that the law does not go beyond the limit of public use.
“It does not prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes, the use of e-cigarettes in locations that sell e-cigarettes, nor the use of e-cigarettes in private homes,” Poloncarz said. “But it does prohibit them in public places to protect individuals who are not using e-cigarettes from the harmful result of the chemicals that enter the air through the ‘vaping’ process.”
Poloncarz said too many people think e-cigarettes are harmless. He noted that studies by the FDA and Johns Hopkins have shown them to contain toxic carcinogens and can compromise the immune system.
The ban includes ‘vaping’ in bars and restaurants across the county. Poloncarz said any concerns that the law will hurt business are as illegitimate as they were 20 years ago when cigarettes were banned in public venues. He said it was a boom to business then, and patrons have similarly positive views now.
“One of the things I’ve heard from restaurateurs with the passage of this law by the legislature is people don’t want to be in a restaurant if someone is ‘vaping’ next to them and then emitting the cloud of vapor as well as the scent that often goes along with it,” said Poloncarz.
The signing of the law expands on changes already made to prohibit ‘vaping’ in county owned buildings, including Ralph Wilson Stadium and First Niagara Center.
As to whether or not the decision may be revisited at a later date, Poloncarz said, “If additional studies come overtime to show that they’re 100 percent safe - and they’d have to be 100 percent safe - then we might revisit it. But in the meantime we don’t have that information. We actually have studies that show it’s not safe, it’s harmful.”