Trendsetters who have circumvented New York City’s public smoking bans by “vaping” electronic cigarettes would no longer be able to do so under legislation proposed by the City Council that would crack down on the smokeless cigarettes.
E-cigarettes are a growing industry and phenomenon, partly because of a perception they are healthier than regular cigarettes and partly because, for the moment anyway, they are not covered by many existing bans.
But antismoking advocates have argued that the electronic devices are a gateway to conventional cigarettes, particularly for teenagers, and that the potential health hazards of the devices have not been sufficiently studied to declare them safe.
The law would add electronic cigarettes to the conventional tobacco products — like cigarettes, cigars and cigarillos — that are now banned in almost all public places in New York, including offices, bars, restaurants, parks, beaches and public plazas.
“We see these cigarettes are really starting to proliferate, and it’s unacceptable,” Councilman James Gennaro said on Wednesday. He and Christine C. Quinn, the Council speaker, are the lead sponsors of the measure.
“I get reports of people smoking cigarettes in public libraries,” Mr. Gennaro said. “Certainly, they’re becoming more common in restaurants and bars.”
He said the Bloomberg administration supported the bill. City Hall did not immediately return phone calls seeking confirmation of that.
The bill is being fast-tracked, because new council members will be seated in January, and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg will be succeeded by Bill de Blasio. If the bill does not pass before then, it would have to be reintroduced.
A hearing on the bill will be held next week, and Mr. Gennaro said the Council expected to take it up on Dec. 19.
E-cigarette makers are expected to mount a strenuous challenge to the bill. The industry has grown in recent years to more than 200 manufacturers in the United States doing $1.7 billion in annual sales; Lorillard, one of the major traditional tobacco companies, acquired Blu, one of the best-known e-cigarette brands, last year.