The Chicago Sun-Times reports that "a surprise outpouring of opposition" has blocked passage of a bill supported by Mayor Rahm Emanuel that would have treated electronic cigarettes like tobacco products. Among other things, that would have meant a ban on vaping in bars, restaurants, and other "public places"—a measure New York City also is considering. Opponents of the Chicago ordinance noted the dearth of evidence that e-cigarettes pose a threat to bystanders (or to vapers themselves) and argued that it was unfair to pressure smokers into quitting (through a new tax hike, among other policies) and then attack a product that could help them do so.
"We're punishing a group of people for trying not to smoke," Alderwoman Leslie Hairston said at meeting of the Chicago City Council's health committee yesterday. "You can't have it both ways. You can't on one day say, 'We're going to tax the heck out of cigarettes,' then the next day [say], 'For those of you who can't afford it and decide you want to smoke vapor, we're going to decide you can't do that, either.'" Another member of the city council, Brendan Reilly, took a puff on an e-cigarette during the meeting, saying he is in midst of switching from smoking to vaping.
Addendum: Speaking of surprising opposition to vaping bans, New York Times columnist Joe Nocera, who has not shown a similar skepticism when the subject is gun control or violent video games, recently faulted anti-smoking activists and public health officials for their knee-jerk rejection of a promising harm reduction tool:
At that recent New York City Council meeting, one of the fiercest critics to testify was Kevin O'Flaherty of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "If it walks like a duck and it talks like a duck and it sounds like a duck and it looks like a duck, it is a duck," he said.
Is this what passes for science when you oppose electronic cigarettes?
[Thanks to David Wegener for the tip.]