Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal’s Bill to Include Electronic Cigarettes in Clean Indoor Act Passes Assembly & Senate

June 20, 2017

New York, NY – New York State Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan) today announced passage of her bill, A.516-A, which would extend the protections of New York State’s Clean Indoor Air Act to include e-cigarettes. The Clean Indoor Air Act protects New Yorkers against exposure to second-hand smoke from traditional tobacco products in office buildings, restaurants, bars and other public spaces. The bill passed the State Senate yesterday and now heads to the Governor’s desk for signature. He is expected to sign the measure. The bill will take effect 30 days after the Governor signs it.

“After years of hard work, I am thrilled that this bill will finally close the loophole that allows e-cigarettes to be used in public indoor spaces,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal, (D/WF-Manhattan), the bill’s sponsor and Chair of the Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.

For years, anti-smoking advocates have worked to make smoking socially taboo. These successful efforts, among others, have led to a dramatic decrease in the number of smokers across the state and the country. The loophole in the Clean Indoor Air Act that allowed e-cigarettes to be used in public indoor spaces threatened to undermine those efforts and renormalize a dangerous behavior.

E-cigarette companies, some of which are owned by traditional tobacco companies, aggressively target the youth market by running ad campaigns featuring cool “celebrities” vaping in hot new nightclubs. R.J Reynolds, the second largest tobacco company in the Unites States owns Blu, one of the largest e-cigarette companies in the country. Altria, previously known as Phillip Morris, the largest tobacco company in the country, purchased Green Smoke, an e-cigarette company, for $110 million in cash.

“Tobacco companies see e-cigarettes as a threat to their market share, but rather than compete with them, they decided instead to acquire them,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal. “The tobacco companies have built their new business plans on hooking young people on e-cigarettes instead of tobacco. This transparent attempt at maintaining their market share at the expense of New York’s young people cannot be tolerated.”

A 2015 study published by Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo found that e-cigarettes expose users to carcinogens, in addition to nicotine, acrolein (a pesticide), formaldehyde and a host of other dangerous chemicals. A study conducted by the World Health Organization concluded that people exposed to second-hand vapor from e-cigarettes absorb nicotine (measured as cotinine), and another study demonstrated the levels were comparable to those who were exposed to second-hand tobacco smoke.

Recognizing the dangers to the public associated with second-hand exposure to e-cigarette vapor, more than 60% of all counties in New York State have already passed local laws to ban the practice.

“With this bill, citizens in every single county in the state will be protected,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal. “The patchwork of legislation that currently exists has complicated enforcement and leaves more 40% of the state’s residents in danger.”

The bill is sponsored by Kemp Hannon in the State Senate.

In 2014, Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal passed a law to ban the sale of liquid nicotine to minors and to require liquid nicotine to be sold in child-resistant packaging. In 2012, she passed a law to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. She is also the sponsor of legislation that would require e-cigarette retailers to register with the state in order to improve enforcement. She is also the sponsor of legislation to ban possession of e-cigarettes on school grounds and to require e-cigarette retailers to register with the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance.

Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal, Chair of the Committee on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, represents the 67th Assembly district, which includes the Upper West Side and parts of the Clinton/ Hell’s Kitchen neighborhoods in Manhattan.