E-Cigarettes Ban Tabled by College Station City Council

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The College Station City Council is moving in a different direction when it comes to banning E-cigarettes in public places.

Last month council members were considering an ordinance that would have banned them in the same places where tobacco cigarettes are banned.

But opposition from local businesses, including restaurants and bars, may have changed some minds.

While you can't smoke the real thing in public, you can puff away on the more trendy E-cigarettes wherever you choose. Some E-cigarettes do have nicotine, while others are nicotine and tobacco free.

Assistant to College Station City Manager, Chris Jarmon says now the the ordinance only bans minors from buying, possessing and smoking E-Cigarettes.

"Are the products truly safe, that is part of the lingering questions some other folks have. Nicotine is addictive and that was a concern of ours and how similar is that to second hand smoke," says Jarmon.

But because there is no hard evidence on whether E-cigarettes are dangerous to anyone's health, City council members will discuss on Thursday to continue allowing everyone over 18 to continue to puff away on the e-cigarettes inside bars and restaurants, if the businesses choose to allow it.

Jarmon says, "We didn't want to harm any existing businesses and so council tabled the item."

But some customers had different opinions. Like Cynthia Smith who says, "if it's something that can affect my health then I wouldn't want to be sitting around people doing it as well."

And Chris Klein says, "if it's outside then it's fine, but when it's inside, then it's a turn off."

As for turning them off inside, Northgate Association president Kenneth Wycoff says businesses were split on the topic.

"As a whole, merchants, retail bars and restaurants, it was 50-50," says Wycoff.

He says he doesn't believe there is any real need to ban the e-cigarettes from public places.

"It's a water vapor, it's fruity smelling, and if it is bothering someone, most people smoking the e-cigarettes don't have a problem moving," says Wycoff.

Everyone we talked to did agree this will be an ongoing discussion among patrons, business owners and the city council members.

The College Station City Council meeting starts at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday.

College Station City Councilwoman Blanche Brick is a proponent of banning the use of E-cigarettes in public places. She cites recommendations from the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Association and the World Health Organization for greater regulation, and says people with breathing-related illnesses and pregnancies can be affected.

BRICK'S STATEMENT TO NEWS 3:
"As stated in this blog the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Association and the World Health Organization have called for greater regulation for the use of these products. These organizations have pointed out concerns for the impact these products have on those with asthma or other breathing related illnesses as well as the impact on pregnant women and youth. They have also found that youth who use these products are more likely to begin smoking tobacco products than those who don't use them.

Finally, I would remind everyone that this ordinance would not have banned the use of these products.. It would only have limited their use in specifically designated public places as a means of protecting the rights of all to be able to use these spaces without being vaporized by those who feel they have the right to do as they please.

I don't know whether the ordinance would have passed with four votes on the council and I respect everyone's right to vote as they deem appropriate. I do regret, however, that the present ordinance, while forbidding the sale of these products to minors, does not protect the rights of those with health issues who want to have equal access to public places such as restaurants and theaters."