New York’s city council voted Thursday to prohibit use of electronic cigarettes in indoor public areas where smoking regular cigarettes is also banned, CBS New York reports. The five boroughs join the states of Utah, North Dakota and New Jersey, which have already enacted similar bans in bars and restaurants.
The e-cig ban will take effect in four months, and restaurants and other private establishments will have six months to post signage informing customers of the new rules.
Proponents say the battery-powered nicotine inhalers are safer alternatives to regular cigarettes, which contain tobacco and have known health risks. But health authorities, including the World Health Organization, stress that health effects of electronic cigarettes are still unknown, and some studies suggests they could be harmful. Opponents of e-cigarettes also point out that the products are offered in candy-like flavors that are appealing to kids.
The still largely un-regulated U.S. e-cigarette market is expected to exceed $1.7 billion in sales in 2013, and major tobacco companies like Lorillard and Altria Group have made significant investments in the technology.
Anticipating regulation from the federal government, cities around the country have been moving forward with their own legislation. The Los Angeles City Council voted earlier this month approved a measure requiring venders to obtain licenses to sell e-cigarettes and banning their sales outright in street kiosks and self-service kiosks.