ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York has added electronic cigarettes to its indoor smoking ban, making it illegal to use the devices in bars, restaurants and most workplaces.
While New York City and several other localities had already prohibited the use of e-cigarettes in areas covered by the smoking ban, the new statewide rules will provide consistency, according to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who signed the bill into law Monday.
"These products are marketed as a healthier alternative to cigarettes, but the reality is they also carry long-term risks to the health of users and those around them," Cuomo said. "This measure closes another dangerous loophole in the law, creating a stronger, healthier New York for all."
Several states including California, Connecticut and New Jersey have already added the devices to their smoking bans.
New York's new law will go into effect in 30 days. Earlier this year, Cuomo signed legislation to prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes in all public and private schools.
The new law has the backing of the American Cancer Society and the American Lung Association. Jeff Seyler, executive vice president of the American Lung Association's northeast region, said the new law sends a signal that e-cigarettes are not safe — and could help prevent some young people from getting hooked on nicotine.
"E-cigarettes are proving to be just another tool reeling them into a dangerous and often lifetime of addiction to nicotine," Seyler said.
Thomas Kiklas said he believes bans like New York's may someday be rolled back once the public learns more about the devices. Kiklas is the co-owner of an e-cigarette brand and the co-founder of the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association. He said he has spoken to physicians who encourage smokers to switch to the products to reduce their risk of illness.
"At some point consumers will realize how valuable this is," he said of the technology.