The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday approved sweeping new regulations that would treat e-cigarettes like conventional cigarettes, after one of the most personal debates to be heard on the council floor in years. …
The debate saw lawmakers share their own experiences with tobacco and the hazards that come with it. Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, who pushed for the new restrictions, spoke of his unhappiness at breathing secondhand smoke during his days as a waiter in the early 1990s.
Councilman Joe Buscaino spoke of a relative’s decision to turn to e-cigarettes after years of smoking. And Council President Herb Wesson, in the most passionate speech of the day, described his decades-long addiction to cigarettes, a habit he told his colleagues would almost certainly kill him one day.
Wesson said he began smoking because he wanted to be cool.
“When you’re 15, you want to be cool,” he said. “And I will not support anything — anything — that might attract one new smoker.” …
Foes of e-cigarettes said they threaten to make smoking socially acceptable after years of public opinion campaigns to discourage the habit. Young people who get hooked on the nicotine in e-cigarettes may then turn to tobacco use, said Jonathan Fielding, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
“We don’t want to risk e-cigarettes undermining a half-century of successful tobacco control,” he said.