Measure would add e-cigarettes to Smoke Free Illinois Act

SPRINGFIELD — A bill looping electronic cigarettes into the Smoke Free Illinois Act passed the Senate on Tuesday.

Sponsored by Indian Creek Democratic Sen. Terry Link, the measure includes vapes, e-cigars, e-hookahs and other such devices in the existing ban on smoking inside and within 15 feet of the entrance to a building.

“It’s only fair that we treat these products the same way we treat cigarettes,” Link said in a news release. “It’s still unclear what the health effects of these devices are and people shouldn’t be forced to be exposed to them in public places if they don’t want to.”

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, more than 150 people have been sickened with lung injuries resulting from the first-hand inhalation of chemicals from vaping. Two Illinois residents have died.

The legislation, Senate Bill 1864, passed by a vote of 41-11. It received bipartisan support.

Democratic Rep. Ann Williams, from Chicago, is the House sponsor. It is unclear when it will receive a committee hearing or receive consideration by the full chamber.

Vicki Vasconcellos, president of the Smoke Free Alternatives Coalition of Illinois, said last week at a news event the findings in the current law apply only to smoking traditional cigarettes — not vaping.

“The Smoke Free Act has nothing to do with vaping, and it isn’t that we do not believe it’s rude to vape indoors, because I think most of us would agree that it is, but we would need finding,” she said.

Vasconcellos questioned why vaping, which she said presents a lesser health risk than smoking traditional cigarettes, would be put in a bill “that’s all about the dangers of smoking.”

“It just doesn’t make any sense,” she said.