The agency has hinted it could begin regulating e-smokes as soon as this year. The only action the FDA has taken to date regarding e-cigarettes is issuing a letter in 2010 to distributors warning them to cease making various unsubstantiated marketing claims. Kiklas said the majority of companies follow the marketing guidelines.
Sward said she hoped the Chicago ban on e-smoking in public places would spur other cities to consider similar legislation.
Boston already has a ban on e-smoking in the workplace, she said. Amtrak bans the use of the devices on trains, and the Federal Aviation Administration prohibits them on flights.
E-cigarette devices work much like a miniature version of the smoke machines that operate behind rock bands. When you "vape" -- that's the term for puffing on an e-cig -- a heating element boils the e-liquid until it produces a vapor. There is no conclusive evidence either way regarding the safety of the habit.
The Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association estimates about 4 million Americans now use battery-powered cigarettes. They project sales of the devices to cross the 1 billion mark by the end of this year.
Choucair said he expects the proposed ban to pass. It is part of a larger initiative to reduce tobacco use in the city that includes increasing the cigarette sales tax and a citywide anti-smoking ad campaign.