(The Center Square) – Illinois now has a law that bans the use of electronic cigarettes in indoor public spaces, but a consumer advocacy group warns such laws could backfire.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law a measure that adds electronic smoking devices to the 2008 Smoke-Free Illinois Act, which banned smoking in most public spaces in the state.
“Illinoisans deserve to enjoy public spaces without being exposed unwillingly to secondhand vapor and other electronic cigarette byproducts,” said Pritzker in a statement.
The Illinois Department of Public Health noted that e-cigarettes can cause lung damage and addiction to nicotine.
Illinois also passed a law to raise the age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21 in 2019, and limited the advertising of e-cigarette products in 2022.
“We have made great progress, but the surge of use of e-cigarettes has threatened that progress and lured more people toward a deadly addiction,” said the bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Julie Morrison, D-Lake Forest.
But Elizabeth Hicks with the Consumer Choice Center said vaping should not be compared with smoking regular cigarettes.
“We know that smoking combustible tobacco is harmful to health, however, vaping studies have shown that it is 95% less harmful than smoking,” said Hicks to The Center Square.
Hicks said the assault on vaping may push Illinoisans back to cigarettes, leaving taxpayers to pick up the tab.
“Taxpayers unfortunately also suffer in addition to consumers,” said Hicks. “The annual Medicaid costs for smoking-related illnesses in Illinois is over $2 billion, which is one of the highest throughout the country.”
The indoor vaping ban goes into effect in January 2024.