The New York City Council is considering a ban on the use of electronic cigarettes in bars, restaurant, and other “public places”—not because there is any evidence that the devices pose a hazard but because they look too much like regular cigarettes. Councilman James Gennaro, a sponsor of the proposed ban, tells The New York Times, “We see these cigarettes are really starting to proliferate, and it’s unacceptable.” Why is it unacceptable? According to the Times, “Mr. Gennaro said children who could not differentiate between regular and electronic smoking were getting the message that smoking is socially acceptable.”
So it is not the product that bothers Gennaro as much as the message it supposedly sends. Presumably he would have the same complaint if people started wearing T-shirts proclaiming that “Smoking Is Cool,” although banning those would be constitutionally problematic.