The rules surrounding electronic cigarettes are a little fuzzy. An electronic cigarette is a device that uses synthetic nicotine and is cleaner and cheaper than the traditional cigarette.
There are some public places that have banned the use of e-cigarettes, but other places like shopping malls, bars, movie theatres and some restaurants may allow vaping.
E-cigs are becoming popular in the city with many smokers putting out their butts and picking up the refillable, rechargeable alternative that has no odour and more importantly produces a vapour instead of smoke. But should public places treat these devices like cigarettes and ban them in airplanes, bars and restaurants? Or should vapors be able to take a hit whenever they want and take advantage of the fact that the synthetic nicotine is harmless to others around them.
One thing is for sure that buses, trains and planes are out of the question. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has said that the use of e-cigs on the E train or any of its rides is banned. The Long Island Rail Road has also said that their cigarette ban also applies to e-cigs. The US Department of Transportation has said that smoking and vaping is not allowed on airplanes.
This though seems where the formal prohibitions end.
The Parks Department doesn’t classify vaping as smoking so the ban on puffers in parks by Mayor Bloomberg is not airtight. Also the Department of Health also says that Bloomberg’s defining Smoke Free Air Act prohibits smoking in public places, but that does not govern the use of e-cigs.
This then means as far as the city is concerned any restaurant, movie theatre, bar, bowling alley; nightclub, shopping mall or nail salon is fair play for vaping. However, this will depend if business owners allow it.
Some businesses will and some will not. Starbucks have recently banned the use of e-cigarettes whilst patrons enjoy their morning coffee, but lower East Side bars like Whiskey Ward, Iggy’s and Coral Yard don’t have a problem with it. Also many Times Square bars and Broadway theatres have put a ban on e-smoking.
It then seems that the law around the use of e-cigs in public areas is a little grey, but it depends on the individual business it seems. It is then wise to just ask the waitron or the manager before you start puffing away.