Most states do not have laws banning the smoking of e-cigarettes in public places such as restaurants and bars. But are they just as offensive as the real thing? You be the judge.
In June of 2015, a New York man was standing outside a train station vaping, which is what smoking an e-cigarette is commonly called. He was approached by a police officer and asked for his ID; Shawn Thomas refused to give the officer his ID and a second officer approached the scene.
After refusing both officers’ requests for him to produce his identification, Thomas was cuffed and arrested by the officers. At his arraignment, the complaint charged him with violating smoking restrictions under the New York State Health Law, obstructing governmental administration, and two counts of disorderly conduct.
Thomas represented himself in court and filed a motion for dismissal of the case. His motion claimed that the DA did not reasonably prove he had committed the offenses with which he was charged.
But there is a catch here: In 2013, the city of New York amended its Smoke-Free Air Act to include e-cigarettes and to make it illegal to smoke them in public places and places of employment. However, in his arrest warrant, the officers charged him using state law, which does not have such a statute to include e-cigarettes.
As a result, the judge ruled in Thomas’s favor, dismissing the charges against him. The judge also dropped the charge of obstructing governmental administration stating that it is not against the law to refuse to show a police officer your identification, and further, that it is not illegal to “yell or curse at a police officer.”
There are no federal laws banning vaping; however, many cities have enacted their own rules, which in some cases conflict with state law, which was the case here. Currently nine states prohibit vaping everywhere smoking is banned.
What do you think – should vaping be banned everywhere that cigarette use is banned?
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