Council should include e-cigs in successful clean-air law

Go ahead and debate the merits of electronic cigarettes all you want, there's no reason to exempt them from Lexington's highly successful clean indoor-air law.

The only reason the ordinance does not specifically mention e-cigs now is they had not been invented in 2003 when the Urban County Council enacted Kentucky's first local smoking ban.

The battery operated devices heat a flavored, nicotine-infused liquid that vaporizes into an aerosol. E-cigs give off small particles that can lodge in lungs, along with a number of chemicals including known carcinogens and nicotine.

Proponents insist e-cigs are a way to reduce harm to smokers and that any pollutants occur in such small concentrations as to be insignificant.

A growing body of science casts doubt on that benign view, although e-cigs are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and therefore little is known about what they contain or how they are made.

Here's the important point: In a city that values clean indoor air and public health, no one should have to work, dine or do business in an enclosed space where someone else is puffing particulates, formaldehyde and other chemicals into the air.

Treating e-cig users like users of traditional nicotine-delivery devices (cigarettes, cigars and pipes) won't put an undue burden on anyone. In fact, it's only fair.

The council should not hesitate Thursday to close this unanticipated loophole in an ordinance that has worked very well.