Today, the Chicago City Council Joint Committee on Finance and Committee on Health and Environmental Protection passed an ordinance regulating e-cigs. The ordinance amending Chapters 4-64 and 7-32 of the Municipal Code of Chicago regulates ecigs like tobacco cigarettes on sale, distribution and use.
I arrived to the City Hall at 11am and was happy to see a few other people opposed to the ban. Smoque, Cignot, NJOY, Vape, Vape City Chicago, Mr. Smoke Chicago, and 21st Century were there in addition to myself and our CEO Steve Milin. The hearing didn’t actually start until 12:30. It ended at 3:30pm with 14 Alderman voting in favor of the ordinance and 5 against it.
The Health Commissioner had a PowerPoint presentation all ready to go. Which is so wrong because no opponents knew that this meeting was going to happen today, until four days ago! That is just not enough time to plan a rebuttal. The City is doing it on purpose. When they first proposed the ordinance, they publicly announced it on a Friday afternoon before Christmas that a hearing was set for Monday morning, and planned to pass it that Wednesday.
They did the same thing for today’s hearing. They didn’t officially post the meeting until last Friday afternoon. How do they expect opponents to gather experts in time to get here to testify, talk about its implications, actually read the proposition and suggest changes? The answer is they don’t. They want this all to get passed under the radar, with as little public debate as possible. They have their experts all lined up and ready to talk, but have given the other side virtually no time to prepare. C’mon Chicago, where’s the democratic process?!
After hearing all the things that were wrong with their proposed ordinance, they rewrote it. He kept saying over and over, that the ordinance is not a ban, but if you’re going to prohibit the use, that means it’s a ban. They say that vape shops would be able to still sell e-cigs. The Commissioner’s worried about so-called known toxins and carcinogens, that ecigs would re-normalize smoking and that e-cigarettes cause enforcement problems.
Unlike the last meeting, where they allowed only one opponent testify, this time several opponents testified. Vicki from Cignot was the first to testify. She was awesome! She gave the Council members a packet of information containing all sorts of studies, and facts. She told her personal story about how she smoked for 33 years and tried everything to quit, and how ecigs were the only thing that worked for her. When an Alderman asked a question about people confusing e-cigs for tobacco cigs, she said “water looks like vodka.” That was great.
The Commissioner is still concerned that people can’t tell the difference between real cigarettes and vapor cigarettes. That’s so absurd! Yes, there are a lot of ecigs out there that attempt to look similar to the real thing, but when it comes down to it, they are totally different. Vaper Eileen M. testified and brought out two different PVs that look nothing like traditional tobacco cigarettes.
Eileen said her doctor prescribed her a nicotine inhaler, for when she can’t use ecigs inside. The problem with this harm reduction tool is that unlike ecigarettes, it only comes with nicotine. That doesn’t help her, since she’s been able to wean herself down to vaping 0mg of nicotine.
Alderman Brendan Reilly brought up a good point. He said how the Commissioner kept bringing up the children, and wanting to protect them. He referred to the State of Illinois passing a law that makes selling ecigs to people under 18 illegal. He said “haven’t we already protected the children, since we just passed the over 18 law?”
We should be able to vape everywhere. Wherever you live you should get involved with the legislation that’s going on, and make sure what happened in Chicago doesn’t happen to your town.