As the year comes to an end, e-cigarettes are closing out 2011 with a bang. In Orland, California, following lengthy discussions and months of debate, the city council is now a few steps closer to passing a ban on smoking in certain outdoor public areas but has decided to exclude e-cigarettes from the text of their proposed ordinance. The proposal calls for smoking to be prohibited 20 feet from the primary entry ways to businesses in the city, near playgrounds, sporting fields, picnic areas in local parks and in the outdoor seating areas of restaurants and cafes. This ban, however, deals specifically with tobacco products and does not include marijuana or e-cigarettes.
Because the ordinance proposal initially called for smoking to be banned in all public parks and within 100 feet of playgrounds, it drew outrage from members of the community who called the ban too strict. After hearing concerns from the public during council meetings, members of the board have continually revised the language in the proposed ordinance and the council directed Associate Attorney Gina Gingery to take the 100 foot requirement out. “No Smoking” signs will be voluntary for business owners and the city and fines for violators will range from $25 to $100, city officials said. If passed during the next board meeting in January 2012, e-cigarettes stand to be excluded from the ban and their use will remain allowed just about anywhere.
Now, if good news weren’t enough, we have even better news coming from Wheeling, Ohio. After several months of debate, the Wheeling-Ohio County Board of Health has suspended a smoking ban that would have prohibited smoking and the use of e-cigarettes in outdoor areas including the Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack, restaurant patios, building doorways, government-owned property, parks, stadiums, playgrounds as well as the parking lots and sidewalks of healthcare facilities. With a vote of 6-0 the proposed ban was indefinitely tabled by the Wheeling-Ohio County Board of Health and Chairman Dr. John Holloway said there is no timetable to take up the measure again while he did not expect any reconsideration in at least the next few weeks or months.
Initially, the smoking ban faced heavy opposition from members of the public, businesses such as the casino and city and county officials who were concerned about how an expansion of the ban would impact them. “I have spoken individually to each member of the board of health and many members of the community,” Holloway said. “Although there is support for the proposed changes, it would appear that it is the consensus of this board not to act on these proposed regulations at this time until greater support from the community has been achieved.”
This year has definitely been a bumpy one for electronic cigarettes starting with the FDA’s attempt to regulate the devices to the numerous smoking bans into which they have been included. While a number of organizations such as the American Lung Association continue to make unfounded claims about the safety of the devices, consumers have the last word and, they are buying. In fact, e-cigs have been generating so much buzz that even celebrities like Katherine Heigl and Star Wars’ actress Carrie Fisher are using their devices during on-screen interviews and speaking out about the benefits of their use. With the general public now becoming more knowledgeable about the devices, we certainly hope to see more victories like that of Wheeling, Ohio during 2012.