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“Thank you for not Vaping”, says the Long Island Rail Road

Filed in News & Politics by on July 25, 2013

The power struggle over electronic cigarettes continues, as the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) bans the popular vapor gadgets.  After receiving an inquisitive letter from the LIRR Commuter’s Council, the Rail Road’s legal department took a look at their statutes in order to clarify whether or not e-cigs should be forbidden.

The official rule states:
“Section 1097.5 Prohibited Uses
No person in a terminal, station or train shall:
…Burn a lighted cigarette, cigar, pipe, or any other matter or substance which contains tobacco or any tobacco substitute on a train or in any indoor area within a terminal or station, or in an outdoor ticketing, boarding or platform area of a terminal or station.” 

The legal department at the LIRR chose to translate this rule so that e cigs fall under the “tobacco” category.  In a statement from the Rail Road’s VP of Public Affairs, officials were told, “The LIRR’s Legal Department advises that we interpret the ban on lighted cigarettes on outdoor ticketing, boarding or platform areas of a terminal or station to apply to electronic cigarettes.”

In response to inquiries from consumers, the LIRR released the following statement:
“Sorry, No Smoking (including E-Cigs) – We’ve received a number of customer inquiries in recent months concerning the LIRR policy regarding the smoking of electronic (or E) cigarettes on railroad property, inside and outside. Based upon the ban on tobacco and tobacco substitutes, smoking electronic cigarettes is also prohibited on LIRR property (inside and outside).  Please remember to be considerate of your fellow riders.”  

The controversy comes when we look at the wording of the official rule; especially the phrase “Burn a lighted cigarette…”  Members of the ecig community are keenly aware that e cigs don’t “burn” or ignite anything.  However, anti-smoking advocates and complaints from other riders on the LIRR have won the battle this time – at least technically.   The new “interpretation” has yet to be enforced; currently, there have been no reported violations.

So, what happens if someone breaks the “rule” by enjoying an e cigarette?  The LIRR regulations state:
“1097.15 Enforcement
a.  Any person violating any of these rules may receive an appearance ticket and/or is subject to ejectment from a terminal, station, or train.
b.  Any police officer shall be empowered to issue an appearance ticket or order ejectment from a terminal, station or train for violation of any of these rules.
c.  Violation of these rules shall constitute an offense and shall be punishable by a fine not exceeding $50 or imprisonment for not more than 30 days or both. Public Authorities Law, section 1266(4).”  

According to LIRR’s legal department, ecigs fall under the same category as traditional cigarettes.  Anti-smoking advocates and un-informed riders have caused the LIRR to issue a regulation which is very difficult to enforce and has left many e-cig fans irritated.

For now, we’ll just have to keep chugging along in the struggle to define enjoying electronic cigarettes as an acceptable practice





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