The City Council is working to include electronic cigarettes in the Smoke-Free Air Act, which would ban the battery-operated vaporizers from all the public places where smoking regular cigarettes is prohibited.
The legislation, sponsored by City Councilman James Genarro and Speaker Christine Quinn, would prohibit the use of e-cigarettes in offices, restaurants, bars, parks, beaches and other public areas.
E-cigarettes are designed to imitate smoking and allow smokers to inhale a vaporized liquid nicotine without burning tobacco. Makers of the e-cigarettes say it is a safe option for regular smokers who can't quit.
But supporters of the bill argue that allowing e-cigarettes in places where smoking is prohibited sends the wrong message to children - that smoking is safe.
The safety of e-cigarettes has been up for debate. Meanwhile, they've become increasingly popular among adults and young people. According to a report from the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention, e-cigarette use doubled among middle school and high school students from 2011 to 2012.
Quinn, Genarro and Council Health Chair Maria del Carmen Arroyo released a joint statement proclaiming that:
"Exposure to the chemicals emitted by e-cigarettes, which are unregulated, poses unknown risks that we simply cannot afford to take. Including E-cigarettes in the Smoke-Free Air Act will save lives."
A hearing on the bill is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 4 at 10 a.m.