Eric Swanson Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Shortly after the Ada City Council outlawed electronic cigarettes on public property, the owners of Ada Vapors fielded at least 20 calls a day from customers seeking more information about the ban.
The number of inquiries has tapered off recently, and now the owners are handling about five or six calls about the ban each day, said Ada Vapors co-owner Tristan Johnson. He added that people are still worried about how the ban will affect them.
“They’re really turned us and the other stores into their voice, because they know it’s kind of hard for everyone individually,” Johnson said Wednesday. “Since we are centered in our business for this, most of our customers have said, ‘Be our voice for this.’
Earlier this month, the city council voted 3-2 to ban tobacco products and e-cigarettes on city-owned property. The ordinance reflects an Oklahoma law which outlaws tobacco products on all state-owned property, but the city takes it one step further by banning e-cigarettes as well.
Under the ordinance, tobacco products and e-cigarettes are banned on all public property. That includes city-owned indoor and outdoor recreational areas.
The ordinance includes exemptions for stand-alone bars, private homes and retail tobacco stores. People may smoke in outdoor seating areas at restaurants, but they may not light up within 15 feet of an exterior public door or an air-intake system.
Tobacco products and e-cigarettes are banned on paths in city-owned parks, such as Wintersmith Park, said Councilman Bryan Morris. He added that people can still smoke on sidewalks and streets, even though they are owned by the city.
“People walking on sidewalks and public streets aren’t going to have to worry because those are easements,” he said.
How it works
E-cigarettes rely on vapors instead of smoke to deliver nicotine or other substances, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The devices typically include a battery-operated heating element, a cartridge that may contain nicotine or other chemicals and an atomizer. When the atomizer is heated, it converts the contents of the cartridge into a vapor that can be inhaled.
The FDA currently regulates cigarettes and other tobacco products but not e-cigarettes.
People who use e-cigarettes tout them as a way for smokers to quit the habit, but skeptics say there is no research proving that claim.
Morris said he voted to ban e-cigarettes and tobacco products on city property because he did not know of any studies proving that e-cigarettes are safer than regular cigarettes. He added that the city isn’t banning e-cigarettes altogether, but it is asking people to refrain from using them on city property.
“We’re not saying that you can’t use e-cigarettes,” he said. “We’re not saying you can’t buy them. We’re not trying to shut down any business. Just don’t smoke them in public.”
Tristan Johnson of Ada Vapors said he did not oppose the city’s decision to ban tobacco products on public property, but he wished the council had gathered more information on e-cigarettes before restricting them.
“It should have been something debated for a long time, especially when you have a 3-2 vote,” he said.
Johnson said local vapor shops and the Oklahoma Vapor Advocacy League are circulating a petition protesting the city’s decision to ban e-cigarettes on public property. He estimated that petition organizers have collected more than 1,000 signatures so far.