(The Center Square) – Starting Monday, electronic cigarette products will be banned inside public places in Illinois.
Kristina Hamilton of the American Lung Association said the association has been leading the charge to encourage states to expand their smoking bans to include e-cigarettes. A coalition of partners across Illinois have been working with the association for several years to prohibit vaping indoors, she said.
“We are very excited that the ban is finally taking effect on Jan. 1,” Hamilton said.
But critics say e-cigarettes are a safer alternative for smokers who are trying to quit traditional cigarettes.
Shortly after the law was signed, Elizabeth Hicks with the Consumer Choice Center warned the measure may push Illinoisans back to cigarettes, leaving taxpayers to pick up the tab.
“Taxpayers unfortunately also suffer in addition to consumers,” Hicks said. “The annual Medicaid costs for smoking-related illnesses in Illinois is over $2 billion, which is one of the highest throughout the country.”
The Illinois Department of Public Health said in a statement that banning indoor use of such products “sends a strong message that e-cigarettes are not a safe alternative to smoking.”
Bystanders, workers and other vulnerable people can be harmed by proximity to an e-smoker, Hamilton said.
“Microscopic toxic particles from e-cigarettes can linger in the air,” Hamilton said. “Nicotine and the aerosol from e-cigarettes exposes smokers and the people around them to harmful substances, including heavy metals and volatile organic compounds,” she said.
Hamilton said a ban on indoor vaping will also help with the cultural change she said is needed to discourage kids from using the products.
“The less that these cigarettes are seen being used in public places, the less it will seem acceptable. And we will see the usage rate reduced,” she said.
The Smoke-Free Illinois Act prohibits using cigars and cigarettes inside public places and within 15 feet of entrances. In 2024, e-cigarette products will be included in the ban.
Kevin Bessler contributed to this report