Los Angeles Might Treat Sale Of E-Cigarettes Like Regular Smokes

Jenny McCarthy, the latest sorta-famous person from the '90s to shill for electronic cigarettes.

Jenny McCarthy, the latest sorta-famous person from the ’90s to shill for electronic cigarettes.

It’s not just has-been actors like Stephen Dorff and Jenny McCarthy who smoke electronic cigarettes. They have become increasingly popular not just with smokers trying to quit but with people who want the fun of smoking without the whole “ashtray lung” after effect. Additionally, e-cigs don’t come with most of the pesky sales limitations of their tobacco counterparts, making them easier to buy and sell for some folks. But if the Los Angeles City Council gets its way, electronic cigarettes will soon be treated exactly the same as the unplugged versions.

The L.A. Times reports that the City Council voted unanimously last night to approve a new law that would subject e-cigarettes, which allow the user to inhale a vapor instead of tobacco smoke, and other “vaping” products to the same restrictions as tobacco.

So no more selling the devices out of street kiosks, ice cream trucks (Wait — this is something that happens?) or self-service displays.

Another law being considered by the city would ban the use of e-cigs in the same places where it’s a no-no to light up a real cigarette, which would put an end to vaping in restaurants, parks, among other locations.

This is just the latest move in the push-back to the growing e-cig business, expected to reach $1.7 billion in sales this year. In September, Attorneys General from 37 states (plus Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) wrote to the FDA asking it to regulate these products like it does tobacco, especially with regard to how e-cigs are marketed toward children.

But the folks in L.A. don’t have the patience for the snail-paced FDA or a logjammed legislature to get around to dealing with what they view as a serious problem.

“It’s a very sinister approach to a very sinister product,” L.A. City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell tells the Times. “We don’t want to wait for the feds to do something.”

In addition to the marketing issues regarding e-cigarettes, there have been numerous reports of fires caused by the devices, including a recent house fire in Idaho tied to an exploding e-cig. It’s believed that many of these incidents involve people whose smoking devices over-charged because they were either plugged in too long (some e-cigs reportedly continue taking a charge when the battery is full) or tried to charge the e-cig via a computer or motor vehicle.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.