April 29, 2014 -- More than 300 e-smokers showed up for a "vape-in" at Manhattan's Museum of Sex Monday night to protest a New York City ban on indoor e-cigarette smoking. They thumbed their noses at e-cigarette prohibitionists by dancing and vaping the night away until well past midnight, when the ban went into effect.
Reason magazine, the Museum of Sex and Henley Vaporium organized and hosted the vape-in. Prominent critics of e-cigarette regulations, including Bill Godshall, the director of SmokeFree Pennsylvania, and Dr. Gilbert Ross, medical director of the American Council on Science and Health, delivered presentations and fielded questions from the audience and press.
Many of the vapers who attended the event took to social media to express their disapproval of "nanny state politics" that place restrictions on e-smoking.
Tara Lober, a 21-year-old from Brooklyn who attended the event, said she thinks the ban is silly.
"This is a health issue, yes, but I see it as closer to a civil rights issue," Lober said, adding that she currently smokes about three packs of tobacco cigarettes a month and hopes that vaping will help her kick the habit.
But so far there's no evidence that vaping is better for overcoming tobacco addiction than any other type of smoking cessation tool. In a few small studies, e-cigarettes seemed to be about as effective as nicotine patches in helping smokers kick the habit. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has called for more research on the topic.
But many vape ban protesters claim the public health community is ignoring the science.
They point to the FDA's own report, which found that the toxicity levels in e-cigarettes are far lower than those found in tobacco cigarettes. But the FDA only tested two brands of e-cigarettes, and there are dozens on the market. The agency recently proposed new rules requiring all ingredients in e-cigarettes be approved and listed on the packaging.
Some vapers even see the rules and restrictions as a plot by the government and drug companies.