Council passes e-cigarette ban
POSTED: Tuesday, June 17, 2014 - 10:46am
UPDATED: Thursday, June 26, 2014 - 7:42am
El Paso, TX (KTSM) — City council has officially drawn the line against vaporizer and e-cigarette use. City representatives, with the exception of Eddie Holguin, passed the major revision to the 15-year-old ordinance banning cigarettes in public spaces at Tuesday’s meeting. Personal freedoms clashed with public health in a contentious, hours-long debate.
Vaporizers and e-cigarettes will now be treated like cigarettes. An ordinance meant to give residents the right to clean air but which clearly divides.
"Vaping in public places or shared places it doesn't show common courtesy,” 14-year-old Miranda Isabella Escobar explained during public comment.
“This is a personal vaporizer, this is what I use. Doesn’t have any nicotine in and I’m just using it as a vapor,” Clayton Early claimed while holding his vaporizer.
Vaporizer proponents claim the smoke from these 'tools' are healthier alternatives to traditional cigarette smoke. "I haven't found anything that's damaging about it. It made me feel better, I can climb mountains,” John Hogan, a Far East El Pasoan who says he was a long-time smoker before turning to vaporizers. "I don't think e-cigarettes should be lumped in with the same group as tobacco smoke. I agree that tobacco smoke is horrible."
We asked the Dean of Texas Tech, Dr. Jose Manuel de la Rosa if the vapors from vaporizers are as dangerous as second-hand cigarette smoke, “The difficulty in answering that particular question depends on what it is that you're putting in order to expel,” he explained.
De la Rosa adds vaporizers are hard to regulate. "The instrument in and of itself can be utilized for different mechanisms." Reports have shown, some people will use the devices for illegal substances, like marijuana the legality of which may be hard to differentiate in a puff of white smoke.
“The exhaust pipe on a car… are we going to tell cars they can’t drive?,” Hogan explained during public comment.
'Vaping' will no longer be allowed on city owned property including parks and zoos by January 2015 and a 20-foot no smoking zone must be adhered to at all public entrances by September 1st."There are lots of examples where when your rights impose on my freedoms we have a conflict and we have to draw the line somewhere and that line was drawn today by the City Council.” Robert Resendes the city’s Public Health Director said.
He adds, the reason why they're waiting until January 1st to enact this ordinance, is so the city has enough time to make new signs to include vaporizers and e-cigarettes.