CTA board poised to add electronic cigarettes to smoking ban

Add electronic cigarette use to the list of activities banned by the CTA.

In its monthly meeting Wednesday, the CTA board is poised to include e-cigarettes in the agency's smoking ban. A CTA spokesman said the agency already considered the battery-powered vaporizers banned under its no-smoking policy, but now is explicitly stating that they would not be allowed on CTA property.

"We just wanted to have a specific reference to e-cigarettes so it is clear for all users of the CTA," CTA spokesman Brian Steele said.

Under current CTA rules, riders are not allowed to smoke or carry a lit cigarette, cigar or pipe on property owned, operated or maintained by the agency. Violators face a fine of up to $500.

The CTA board would be following the city council, which voted in January to prohibit electronic cigarettes in restaurants, sports venues and most indoor public spaces in Chicago. The ban, which mirrors the policy for regular cigarettes, took effect in April.

E-cigarettes have grown into a $2 billion industry, according to news reports. Proponents say e-cigarettes are less harmful than regular cigarettes. Opponents say e-cigarette use can be a gateway to regular smoking. Health organizations say they still are evaluating the risks and benefits of e-cigarettes.

The CTA has received one complaint about e-cigarette use this year through May, Steele said. The agency received no complaints last year.

In New York, e-cigarettes are banned on the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad, but a Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman said the agency is reviewing the New York subway smoking policy in light of a city law that took effect in April that bans electronic cigarettes in places where regular cigarettes are not allowed.

Loyola following

Ald. Joe Moore (49th) is touting "Summer on the Plaza," a new initiative for events on the Loyola Red Line Station Plaza that include jazz band performances, an ice cream social, dance shows and a farmersmarket.

Art in motion

A West Town art gallery is presenting Transit, a group art show focused on trains, subways and bridges. The exhibition at Vertical Gallery, 1016 N. Western Ave., runs through June 28.

Stationary

A weekly dispatch from a CTA station of note

This week: California Green Line

While the Lake Street branch of the Green Line saw a 2 percent ridership bump last year, the California Green Line stop saw a 2.6 percent decline compared with the previous year, according to the CTA station. This East Garfield Park stop could benefit from more transit-oriented development, instead of neighboring vacant lots that serve as litter magnets, which have become characteristic of Lake Street Green Line stops.

Next up: Racine Blue Line

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