The increased popularity of electronic cigarettes has presented both lawmakers and business owners with difficult situations. Although the products are referred to as cigarettes, the electronic devices emit nicotine in the form of vapor rather than smoke. The relative safety regarding an individual’s personal health is still under review, but the lack of smoke and smell makes the e-cigarettes much safer for indoor use.
Thus far, there have been few laws passed regarding the use of electronic cigarettes. The technology is simply too new. According to the Examiner, however, a man in upstate New York was recently given a traffic ticket for “vaping” an electronic cigarette while driving.
The man, Jason Dewing, was given the ticket on a technicality. Although using an electronic cigarette while driving is not illegal, using a “portable electronic device” while a vehicle is in motion is prohibited.
This law was undoubtedly created to regulate the dangerous use of cell phones while driving. In fact, that’s what the officer that pulled Dewing over suspected him of doing.
“The officer truly believed I had a cell phone in my hand when he pulled me over,” Dewing said, according to the Liberty Crier.
Still, the judge presiding over his case claimed that an e-cigarette could be classified as an electronic device. Despite his protests, Dewing was found guilty in court of violating New York traffic law 1225-d on March 20, 2014. He plans to take his case to an appeals court, further explaining that he was using an e-cigarette rather than a cell phone. Dewing believes he has a strong case.
“The way the law is written, an e-cigarette cannot make a call nor can it send text or data; therefore, it cannot be a portable electronic device,” he said.
Several major cities, including New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, have begun passing laws that treat electronic cigarettes similar to their regular counterparts by banning them for indoor use.