GUEST: L.A. City Councilmember Paul Koretz on why he voted to ban 'vaping', even while admitting it's 'much safer than smoking'
UPDATED: Former CEO of American Lung Association calls L.A. ban 'misguided', 'step in wrong direction'...
By Brad Friedman on 3/5/2014, 5:58pm PT  

On Tuesday, the L.A. City Council voted to join cities like New York and Chicago by banning e-cigarette use in the same public spaces where tobacco use is banned, such as "farmers' markets, parks, recreational areas, beaches, indoor workplaces such as bars and nightclubs, outdoor dining areas and other places where lighting up is banned."

On this week's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio I spoke with L.A. City Councilmember Paul Koretz (CD5) about why they voted to impose the ban, despite the dearth of evidence that e-cig 'vaping' is harmful to either the user or anyone else, and the evidence (include my own personal story) that vaping is, hands down, the most effective way for smokers to stop smoking. In fact, as I describe during the show, I view it as a "miracle" that will save countless lives and that banning it --- or making it harder to vape in any way, without good reason --- will, quite frankly, result in countless unnecessary deaths.

Even Koretz admitted during my interview that there's a "99% possibility" that vaping is "much safer than smoking".

But he was low-balling it, frankly. As you'll hearing during the show, this is a very personal issue for me. But you can decide for yourself if Koretz makes the case for the L.A. City Council's ban. Either way, the ban will only go into effect if Mayor Eric Garcetti approves it. Garcetti can be contacted here.

My great thanks to Koretz for joining us at the last minute, and for sticking around for tough questioning from both me and callers.

ALSO ON THIS WEEK'S SHOW: A few rants on the Ukraine/Russia hysteria; new fines for 'Big Coal'; Desi Doyen and the latest Green News Report and more. Enjoy!

Download MP3 or listen online below...

[Image: Shutterstock/Gianluca Rasile]

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UPDATE 3/7/2014: PandoDaily's David Holmes pulls together a lot of the known (and unknown) information about e-cigs and describes the L.A. City Council's ordinance "to treat e-cigarettes like conventional cigarettes" as "irrational and bad policy."

Holmes also cites Charles D. Connor, former president and CEO of the American Lung Association, who says, in response to L.A.'s plan to ban e-cig use as if they are tobacco products:

[T]his proposal is misguided because it would do a public health disservice, discouraging smokers from switching to less-harmful electronic cigarettes that do not combust tobacco and therefore, do not create second-hand smoke.

As a former president of the American Lung Association, I have seen how e-cigarettes have become the subject of much confusion and misinformation, which has led to a classic case of guilt by association.

E-cigarettes may deliver nicotine and look like cigarettes. But there the similarities end.
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Including e-cigarettes in the city's smoking ban would be a step in the wrong direction. It would send the unintended message to smokers that electronic cigarettes are as dangerous as traditional cigarettes, locking many smokers into traditional cigarette use. This is a public health outcome we do not want.
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E-cigarettes are a fundamentally different product from combustible tobacco cigarettes and should not fall under the same rules and restrictions. Rather, we should encourage current smokers to move down the ladder of risk by implementing regulations that recognize these differences.

As a society, we should continue our laser focus on eliminating tobacco use. But a premature "regulate first, ask questions later" approach that equates e-cigarettes to combustible tobacco cigarettes only serves as an obstacle to that goal. The Los Angeles City Council should pause its campaign against electronic cigarettes until the FDA experts offer guidance on how the product should be regulated. To do otherwise is to ignore an opportunity to save millions of smokers from a lot of harm.