Electronic Cigarette Retailers Say ‘Paid Fearmongers’ Are Behind NOLA Smoking Ban

After yesterday’s news that the New Orleans City Council unanimously approved a widespread smoking in all public places including businesses and bars, the Louisiana Association of Electronic Cigarette Retailers (LAECR) is saying that the ordinance is flawed and was pushed by “paid fearmongers.”

The electronic cigarette crowd in New Orleans is no longer a small group like it was a few years ago. Today, there’s an entire community dedicated to smoking the vapor cigarettes, known as “vaping.”

According to the LAECR, the City Council did not take into consideration that a deal could have been made between electronic cigarettes retailers and the council, mainly because of smoking fearmongers who praised the ordinance as helping public health.

Today’s vote as it relates to personal vaporizers was based on biased information provided by paid fearmongers, and by a desire to retain anti-smoking convention dollars without considering whether a balance could be struck preserving New Orleans’ stake in the projected $3.5 billion electronic cigarette industry. We hope that in the future, we can work with the City to ensure regulations in this arena are based on fact, science, voter opinion, and true public interest.

And with the passage of this smoking ban ordinance, the vaping community is entirely ignored, according to the LAECR.

By enacting an “anti-smoking” bill which wholly ignores the unique nature of electronic cigarettes, the City not only regulates in the wrong way, but fails to regulate properly. The products remain self-regulated. While LAECR requires its members to disclose nicotine levels, use child-resistant packaging, and create age verification programs, our offer to share the related data with the Council and work together to create safer products has been ignored.

The LAECR said tobacco cigarettes and electronic cigarettes are fundamentally different products, one releases tobacco smoke and one releases vapor smoke, which is not harmful. Because of these differences, the LAECR said the two products should not have been treated and regulated the same in Latoya Cantrell’s ordinance.

Councilmember Cantrell’s initial draft of the statute would have put local electronic cigarette purveyors out of business. LAECR appreciates that she admitted the oversight and made small concessions to remedy it. The changes, however, do not go nearly far enough, and treating these products as equivalent will discourage smokers from trying this important alternative.

Due to the smoking ban, the LAECR said electronic cigarettes will be “mistakenly perceived by the New Orleans community as a public health concern equivalent to smoking tobacco.”

Even statements by the Center for Disease Control reiterated that vaping was not a public health concern, however, the City Council did not take those comments into consideration.

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