City of Socorro bans e-cigarette smoking in public places
POSTED: Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 10:25pm
UPDATED: Friday, March 21, 2014 - 2:41pm
Socorro, TX (KTSM) — The City of Socorro has banned smoking electronic cigarettes in public places.
At a meeting on Thursday, city council voted unanimously to approve the ordinance.
"We see that the majority of people who use these e-cigarettes are teenagers. And we see that in 2011 and 2012, the number of teenagers who used these cigarettes more than doubled across the country and of course that leads to an addiction to nicotine," said Mayor Jesus Ruiz.
Shop owners in El Paso, like Ricky Lee, who sell the e-cigs, argue they aren't as bad for you as regular cigarettes are.
"For people that smoke, there's tar, there's chemicals in cigarettes, where with electronic cigarettes there's none of that," said Lee.
"We see them as another cigarette," said Sue Beatty with the El Paso Department of Health.
According to Beatty, e-cigarettes aren't regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration so it's unclear just how much nicotine is in them.
The Department of Health also argues the idea that e-cigs aren't dangerous lures non-smokers into the habit.
"They also come in flavors, which makes them very appealing to young people, and so again, in our opinion, it's really kind of a way of maybe getting new smokers to start with the addiction," said Beatty.
"We're not in the business of getting kids to start up. It's really devised for people that are existing smokers that are looking for a healthier alternative," said Lee.
Health officials say there isn't any proof that e-cigs are any healthier but admit there isn't any enough research about its long-term effects.
The new ban on e-cigarettes in Socorro will go into effect on Friday, March 21st.
Socorro is the first city in El Paso County to ban e-cigs.
If you're caught smoking them in public, you'll be fined $100 for the first offense.