June 4, 2011
RICHMOND, Va. – That's not smoke coming out of Cliff Phillips' mouth.
But that hasn't stopped others from cringing, making remarks, waving their hands in their faces and coughing at the sight of the vapor from his electronic cigarette.
"They're just conditioned if they see you inhale and exhale something, it's got to be smoke and it's going to stink. ... They're not even smelling anything," said Phillips, a 61-year-old retiree and former cigarette smoker from Cuba, Ill.
But e-cig users are being lumped in with traditional smokers when they want to "vape" and are being asked to not use them in places where smoking is prohibited.
New Jersey is the only state that specifically bans use of e-cigarettes where regular smoking isn't allowed. Some local governments have banned the devices under their smoke-free laws.
However, in Virginia, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli wrote an opinion saying that because e-cigs don't burn tobacco, the "vapor emitted by an e-cigarette would not fall within the definition" of the law.
"The whole purpose of a smoking ban is to protect people from secondhand smoke, and there isn't any smoke from an electronic cigarette," Elaine Keller, vice president of Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association, an Alabama-based nonprofit that works to ensure the availability of alternatives to smoking. The group says it hasn't received funding from e-cigarette companies.
"Your nose will let you know whether somebody is smoking or not. ... and your eyes will tell you, too, as soon as you get close enough."
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Saturday, June 4, 2011
E-cigs: No smoke, but some areas are banning them