On Oct. 28, the Evanston City Council voted 8-1 to include e-cigarettes in the Evanston Clean Air Act. The use of e-cigarettes will now be prohibited in all areas designated “smoke-free” and within 25 feet of building entrances. E-cigarettes are electronic devices that deliver nicotine to the user in a vapor form. The ordinance does not ban e-cigarettes but applies the same regulations as other tobacco products in order to promote the health of residents.
Current research is inconclusive on the long-term health consequences of e-cigarettes for users and bystanders exposed to the vapors. Attorneys General in 40 states have already urged the Food and Drug Administration to regulate e-cigarettes in the same manner as other tobacco products, due to the lack of research and concern in regards to use of e-cigarettes particularly by those under 18.
Beyond the unknown health impacts on users and bystanders, one additional concern with unregulated e-cigarettes is their potential danger to young people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report in September describing the rapid increase in e-cigarette use among teens, showing a nearly 50% increase between 2011-2012, from 4.7% to 10%. The CDC recommends that because young people are highly susceptible to social and environmental influences to use tobacco, strategies to prevent marketing, sales, and use of e-cigarettes among youths be pursued. Evanston’s adoption of this ordinance reflects its commitment to the health and safety of users, bystanders and youth and serves as a model for other cities to follow.