New York State is one of the most liberal states in the Union, but even the home of The Big Apple struggles with the perceived and imagined differences between vaping eliquids and smoking. While vaping activists consider the two practices completely separate with no real connection, the public-at-large seems to equate any long, tubular device that produces a white mist when protruding from the lips to be “harmful to your health.” Luckily, the New York State Court of Appeals is on the side of the vaping community.
According to a recently decided case, The People vs. Thomas, vaping in public is NOT considered a violation of the state's Clean Air Act, otherwise known as the New York State Public Health Law. As court records indicate, Shawn Thomas was charged with public vaping on June 9, 2015. A police officer says that Mr. Thomas was vaping while standing on a platform of the Nevins Street subway station in Brooklyn. Since this is not a designated smoking area, Thomas was charged with a crime.
Of course, Thomas did not go quietly. The police officers state that he shouted a few choice expletives followed by a rather abrupt, “Get the fuck away from me.” Now that’s a guy who takes his vaping practices very seriously. Police Officer Alexande Miroshnyk and a Seargent Eill responded as one might expect. They issued the vaping enthusiast a citation.
Now most people would probably just pay the fine and move on. But not Thomas. He took it to court. And when he didn’t get a “fair and speedy trial,” he and his lawyer moved for immediate dismissal. After the New York Court of Appeals reviews the lawsuit, they not only dismiss the charge. They also explain why.
According to the Clean Air Act, smoking is defined as “the burning of a lighted cigar, cigarette, pipe or any other matter or substance which contains tobacco.”
It’s the last three words of that statement that seem to be causing so much worldwide confusion when discussing the differences between vaping and smoking. In fact, an account of Thomas’ story even made it into the Washington Post. Post journalist Eugene Volokh includes some other compelling court statements that support the Thomas ruling.
“An electronic cigarette neither burns nor contains tobacco. Instead, the use of such a device, which is commonly referred to as ‘vaping,’ involves ‘the inhalation of vapourized e-cigarette liquid consisting of water, nicotine, a base of propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin and occasionally, flavouring.’ This does not fit within the definition of ‘smoking’ under PHL § 1399-o.”
While RastaVapors does not condone Thomas’ actions specifically related to cursing at cops, we do want to give the man kudos for standing up for his rights and the rights of the entire vaping community. But next time, do it with a bit more class, will you?