2013-08-22 / Community

Are e-cigarettes just a pipe dream?

To date, secondhand cigarette smoke has been banned in most public places. Those who don’t smoke are glad to be rid of the noxious fumes. Those who do smoke are learning to cope.

The new frontier in the war on tobacco is the electronic cigarette, those devices that allow smokers to consume nicotine in vapor form without the release of harmful secondhand smoke.

So-called vapor rooms in Agoura Hills and Thousand Oaks are drawing curious new customers. The trend has become popular.

A recent bill proposed by the California Senate, however, defines the e-cigarette as a tobacco product and seeks to ban vaping, the smoking of vapor, in places where regular smoking is prohibited.

Electronic cigarette users were breathing a sigh of relief when a California Assembly committee postponed its Aug. 14 hearing on the bill and tabled it until next year. For the time being, the new cigarettes will remain legal.

Because the devices are not regulated or considered a tobacco product by law, users can puff on their e-cigarettes practically anywhere.

What a great compromise these devices represent in the war between smokers and non-smokers. Users can still get their nicotine fix, while non-users can be free of the wafting carcinogenic smoke they so dislike.

But the full effect of the vapor mist still isn’t known. The chemical-laced e-juice may not be as harmless as it’s made out to be, which is one reason the Senate floated the bill that puts vapor into the same category as tobacco. There’s also no legislation yet to keep the devices out of the hands of juveniles, and we think there should be.

Still, e-cigarettes represent a significant step forward in the move toward a more smoke-free society. For the time being, they’re helping to clear the air in the debate over secondhand smoke. Let’s give them a chance.

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