Councilors in New York City are racing to snuff out electronic cigarettes in public places before a new mayor and new council move in next year. The devices, which emit vapor instead of smoke, have surged in popularity and the council will vote next month on a proposal to ban them in bars, parks, and everywhere else tobacco smoking is banned. "We see these cigarettes are really starting to proliferate, and it’s unacceptable," one of the key backers of the proposal tells the New York Times. "I get reports of people smoking cigarettes in public libraries. Certainly, they’re becoming more common in restaurants and bars."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg supports the proposal, reports the New York Daily News. "Electronic cigarettes are unregulated and the health risks to users are unknown," says the city's health commissioner, warning that the devices, increasingly popular among teens, could lead to a new generation getting hooked on regular cigarettes. But makers—and users—say the vaporizers help people kick the smoking habit. "If you make it just as inconvenient to use an electronic cigarette as a tobacco cigarette, people are just going to keep smoking their Marlboros," argues the chief of e-cigarette maker NJoy. (Read more electronic cigarette stories.)