E-cigarette smokers took their final legal puffs as the ordinance that bans the device from bars, nightclubs, restaurants and other public places took effect at midnight Saturday.
One club made an event out of the ban and threw a vapor smoke-filled party while it was still allowed -- but the night wasn't all smiles.
"It is frustrating only because customers aren't going to be happy," said Richard Park, owner of the Cindy Club on Beverly Boulevard. "They're going to have to be vaping outside, which I think is really ridiculous, because they're considering it the same as cigarettes right now."
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The club's event for the final legal puff came after months of debate into the controversial use of the vapor devices.
Tensions heated up earlier this year when Angelenos butted heads over what to do with the growing mainstream tobacco alternative.
LA Councilmen Mitch O'Farrell and Paul Koretz motioned for Los Angeles’ chief legislative analyst to review a policy proposal related to the general use and classification of e-cigarettes on Jan. 14.
"We need to do all we can with what we know now to protect the public health," O'Farrell said. "It became a real issue in public schools. Youth were sneaking e-cigarettes and vaping under their desks. We don't want to expose a whole new generation to normalizing e-cigarette use."
The ensuing report from CLA Gerry F. Miller recommended actions that would essentially treat e-cigarettes as traditional tobacco products.
Based on Miller’s recommendation, a strict proposal was put before the Arts, Parks, Health, Aging and River Committee and passed unanimously during a LA City Council meeting on Feb. 24.
“For anyone to say that e-cigarettes are not harmful, I think they are taking us down the same path that the tobacco industry said in 1954 that cigarettes were not harmful,” Councilman Bernard Parks said during that meeting.
Proponent Mark Burton, who spoke during the council meeting, cited a Drexel University study.
The research “found that contaminate levels of the vapor, if you will, were far below what would be considered harmful,” he said.
On March 4, the ban was approved unanimously by the LA City Council, and endorsed by the LA mayor’s office the following day.
The use of e-cigarettes has been widely controversial as well as popular across the country with similar contentions in New York City.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration currently regulates cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco, and smokeless tobacco. Only e-cigarettes marketed for therapeutic purposes are regulated by the agency.
"I'm struggling with this because I want to make sure we are solving a problem based on actual facts and justification," said Councilmember Paul Krekorian during the March 4 meeting . "There are a variety of different views on the impact of what that second-hand vapor may be.”
"There's a well-developed body of evidence on smoking. But, from everything I've heard, I don't think a case has been made that adult exposure should be something that this council acts on absent regulation by one of these agencies... equipped to make those difficult assessments."
The new law does not affect vaping lounges or stores, which as of late have been raking in big business. E-cigarettes would also still be allowed for "theatrical purposes.”