Albany, N.Y. (AP) - New York lawmakers are considering what could become the first state ban on electronic cigarettes, devices touted on the Internet in ads promising all the pleasures of smoking without the deadly health threat.
Health officials say e-cigarettes are just another addictive habit, one that can hook kids early and legally on smoking. But advocates who have used the devices to quit or cut down smoking tobacco call the battery-operated smokes a miracle.
"I got interested in this because I saw all these ads for e-cigarettes, so I did some research," said Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, a Manhattan Democrat. "I found what is in the e-cigarettes is a mystery."
She wants to ban e-cigarettes in
Her bill was approved in the Assembly last year but stalled in the Senate, which was then controlled by Democrats. Senate Health Committee Chairman Kemp Hannon, a Republican, said the bill likely will be considered by his committee and a hearing may be held, but it's too early to predict what will happen with the proposal.
E-cigarettes have prompted debate nationwide since they became widely available in the
Powerful lobbies are involved. If treated as a tobacco product, e-cigarettes would avoid the research and trials required of competitors in the pharmaceutical industry, including anti-smoking patches and inhalers. As a medical device, e-cigarettes could draw opposition from that powerful lobby as a fresh and less expensive competitor.
Advocates of e-cigarettes are now watching
"I would still be smoking if not for this product," she said.
Keller said she has been tobacco free since March 2009 after 45 years of smoking. She said her group amounts to a grass-roots effort of those who feel the government has blocked this "miracle" product.
"There is no industry support on this thing at all," she said of the organization. "We want to keep it this way so no one can say we are a shill for the tobacco, drug or e-cigarette industry."
She also tries to recast the safety question.
"I can't point to anything to say it's 100 percent safe," Keller said. "The thing is, it only needs to be safer. The only standard is that it's safer than smoking."