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E-cigs and their potential risks have made them controversial in recent years.
E-cigs and their potential risks have made them controversial in recent years.

Regional News/Midwest: Chicago votes to ban use of e-cigarettes in indoor spaces

By Steven Ross Johnson
Posted: January 18, 2014 - 12:01 am ET

Chicago once again earned the name Second City last week when its leaders voted to prohibit the use of e-cigarettes in public indoor areas, following a similar measure passed by New York City last month.

The Chicago City Council voted 45-4 in favor of the regulation, which requires users of the popular devices to stand a minimum of 15 feet away from the entrance of all public buildings, the same rules that have existed for tobacco cigarettes for more than a decade. Also, vendors will now be required to place e-cigarettes behind counters to keep them away from children.

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Illinois passed a bill last August banning the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, after growing concerns from anti-smoking advocates that some e-cig makers were specifically marketing their product to children by offering cartridges in sweet flavors.

E-cigarettes have been at the center of a growing controversy in recent years. Proponents defend them as a safe alternative to using tobacco cigarettes, contending the nicotine solution that is turned into vapor and inhaled through the devices poses less health risk to users than the harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke.

Several state and local governments across the country have begun to regulate e-cigs in anticipation of federal oversight. Laws banning the use of e-cigarettes in public places have been passed in Utah, North Dakota and New Jersey, and similar measures are being considered in Los Angeles.

Follow Steven Ross Johnson on Twitter: @MHsjohnson

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