Court Rules That Vaping Is Not Smoking

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As soon as you try vaping, it’s easy to understand that it is not the same as smoking. However, many lawmakers tend to get this confused. Fortunately, a judge in Brooklyn, New York recently opened his eyes to the difference, ruling that vaping is not smoking, and declaring the two words cannot be used interchangeably.

This is great news for the vape community! Now when someone says to you, “stop smoking” when you’re vaping, you can politely let them know they are wrong. You can express this with confidence, knowing you’re backed by the United States Judicial Dept.

The case “People vs. Thomas” was started after a vaper was cited for vaping on a subway platform, he challenged the issue in court. Defendant Shawn Thomas was charged with a violation of smoking restrictions after vaping on a subway platform in New York City.  In “People vs. Thomas,” the judge said that New York law defines smoking as “the burning of a lighted cigar, cigarette, pipe or any other matter or substance which contains tobacco”. With that definition in mind, the court ruled that this excludes vaporizers.

“An electronic cigarette neither burns nor contains tobacco,” the court noted. “Instead, the use of such a device, which is commonly referred to as ‘vaping,’ involves the inhalation of vaporized e-cigarette liquid consisting of water, nicotine, a base of propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin and occasionally, flavoring.”

The state argued that there was no need for a specific regulation on vaporizers since “the courts of New York have yet to make a determination as to whether electronic cigarettes are to be viewed any differently under these sections than tobacco cigarettes.”

However, to the states dismay, the judge ruled that this argument was invalid. The judge proclaimed that vaporizers do not match up with the state’s current definition of “smoking” because they do not contain tobacco, and therefore cannot be treated as tobacco products.

Smoking is currently prohibited in most public areas of New York, and this ruling may have significant implications for vaporizer users as smoking and vaping are now officially ruled to be separate. The implications of this ruling means that vaping may not be held to the same restrictions as smoking. After a proposed bill attempted to restrict vaporizer users in New York City under the Smoke Free Air Act died in the senate, the community can now celebrate over this ruling and use this as motivation to continue to the fight for fair legislation. This sensible judge ruling has left the vaporizer community with a new sense and reason to enjoy their freedoms.

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1 Comment

  • Reply March 4, 2016

    Chuck Lantz

    A very interesting and important ruling. Obviously, this is still only the beginning of judicial and legislative battle over vaping. As with any new and unprecedented situation like vaping, which has very little case law to guide judges and lawmakers, lobbyists and special interest groups will be wielding a lot of power during the next few years, as vaping-related laws are passed and cases are heard.

    Considering the many decades it has taken to change laws, and attitudes, about marijuana, we may also be in for a very long fight. What is needed are some lawyers, judges, politicians and other legally and politically influential people who either vape themselves, or who are intelligently informed about what vaping is, and what it isn’t.

    My primary concern is that some lawmakers and/or judges might succumb to anti-vaping pressure and pass quick and dirty stop-gap legislation, or case rulings, in their uninformed rush to do “something” about what they may be convinced is a problem.

    And that’s where even we “little people” can possibly make a difference. Believe it or not, those who have the power to make the rules often do listen to those who will be impacted by those rules (us!), so we need to make some – positive – noise. Emails, letters, phone calls, petitions, letters to editors, comments on news sites; … all of that can and often does have an effect on the rules-makers, especially in areas that are new and relatively lacking in hard facts, such as vaping.

    So, get to work, boys and girls! We truly can make a positive difference.

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