Several states, workplaces, localities across U.S. including electronic cigarettes in smoking bans even though products don't burn, don't give off smoke

RICHMOND, Virginia , June 7, 2011 () – Electronic cigarettes are sparking a social and legal debate over whether it's OK to "light up" in places where regular smokes are banned.

Despite big differences between cigarettes and their electronic cousins, several states, workplaces and localities across the country have explicitly included e-cigs in smoking bans.

Some have clarified that the battery-powered devices don't fall under those bans; others are retooling smoke-free laws to include them.

E-cigarettes are plastic and metal devices that heat a liquid nicotine solution in a cartridge, creating vapor that users inhale. They don't burn and don't give off smoke. Users call the practice "vaping" rather than smoking.

Advocates say e-cigarettes should be allowed in places where traditional cigarettes are banned. Others are skeptical of their safety and what risks secondhand e-cig vapor holds.

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