E-cigarettes banned on CTA

E-cigarette smoker and former cigarette smoker Joel Santi, 32, of Elgin, inhales the vapor, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013 in Elmhurst. (Chuck Berman / Chicago Tribune / November 13, 2013)

Whether you call it an “e-cig,’’ a personal vaporizer or an electronic nicotine delivery system, the battery-powered device is now officially banned on all CTA property — no ifs, ands or butts.

The CTA board on Wednesday passed an ordinance prohibiting the use of e-cigarettes at rail stations, on trains and on buses, effective immediately. The use of e-cigarettes and tobacco products is legal at CTA bus stops, which are located in the public way, officials said.

The CTA ordinance follows a Chicago ordinance that took effect in late April that explicitly prohibits people from using e-cigarettes in restaurants, bars and most other indoor public places in the city.

CTA President Forrest Claypool said he was not aware of a big problem with CTA riders using the devices, and he said a no-smoking policy already on the transit agency’s books should also cover e-cigarette enforcement. But CTA lawyers decided the new law was needed to provide consistency and to better protect the health of CTA customers and employees.

During the first five and a half months of this year, 324 tickets were issued by Chicago police to people smoking tobacco on CTA property, officials said. No tickets were issued for “vaping.’’

E-cigarettes have grown into a multibillion-dollar industry, according to news reports. Health organizations say they still are evaluating the risks and benefits of e-cigarettes.

jhilkevitch@tribune.com