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E-cig smoking banned at CTA stations, but OK at bus stops

Electronic cigarettes are off-limits Chicago Transit Authority rail stations other CTA property but smokers can “vape” away CTA bus stops

Electronic cigarettes are off-limits at Chicago Transit Authority rail stations and other CTA property, but smokers can “vape” away at CTA bus stops under an ordinance approved Tuesday. | Sun-Times file

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Updated: July 13, 2014 5:03PM



Electronic cigarettes are off-limits at Chicago Transit Authority rail stations and other CTA property, but smokers can “vape” away at CTA bus stops under an ordinance approved Tuesday.

CTA bus stops exist “on the public way” and therefore are not subject to the ban on e-cigarettes and their vapors imposed Tuesday on CTA property, CTA officials said.

But for the rest of CTA-owned property, the agency wanted to conform as much as possible with a Chicago ordinance passed Jan. 14 that prohibits the use of e-cigarettes in restaurants, bars and most indoor public places.

Why is the ban needed? Explained CTA President Forrest Claypool: “The vapors would be disruptive to our customers.’’

Mayor Rahm Emanuel pushed through the city e-cigarette ban by arguing that the product is a “gateway” to getting kids hooked on traditional cigarettes. Supporters argued e-cigs are less harmful than conventional cigarettes and are helpful to users trying to quit.

Claypool said he believes current CTA no-smoking signs can clearly be interpreted as also banning e-cigarettes, but publicizing the new e-cig ban also should remind “vapers” not to vape.

Also Wednesday, Claypool said construction on two Red Line stations should begin this fall. The existing Wilson Avenue and 95th Street stations should stay open during the construction work.

The $203 million Wilson station project will replace a badly deteriorated stationhouse built in 1923, reconstruct 2,200 feet of century-old elevated track, replace signals and convert the Red-Line only station to a Red-Purple Line transfer point.

The $240 million 95th Street station project will replace the existing station on the north side of 95th and add a second station building on the south side of 95th.

CTA board members Wednesday also approved floating $555 million in bonds for CTA construction projects and equipment. Officials said the CTA was saving $78 million by not floating them last year, as originally planned.

As it turned out, said CTA Chief Financial Officer Ron DeNard, the demand for bonds is “historically high” and the interest rates the CTA must pay on them is “historically low” so “this is the perfect time to be issuing bonds.’’

Email rrossi@suntimes.com

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