E-cigarette users seek exemption from smoking ban

Published: .
Updated: .

The debate about e-cigarettes is heating up again.

There's a petition circulating in Greenfield asking that people be permitted to "vape" in restaurants.

Under the current smoking ban in Hancock County, e-cigarettes are not allowed to be used inside public restaurants and businesses.

"It's no different than going into a restaurant and having a pan of boiling water," said Gale Burke, of the vapor emitted by the devices. "Please don't take this away from us, we've finally found something that's helped us."

Gale said vaping has stopped her from smoking cigarettes. She and other vaping proponents met with the County Board of Health, seeking an e-cigarette exception.

For some, it's as simple as a definition.

"The definition of cigarette, as on your handout from different sources every single definition I see of cigarettes, includes tobacco," said Pat Powers, a law enforcement officer.

Stephanie Rogers owns Vapor Lock, a store that sells everything e-cigarette. She believes the mixture of nicotine, food additives and liquid flavors is not a traditional cigarette.

"Every night when smokers go to bed, their lungs start healing and we smoke first thing in the morning, and we start the process all over again," Rogers said.

Stephanie has almost 450 others who signed a petition who agree with her. But the debate took a medical turn, comparing vapor to dangerous second-hand smoke.

"A number of chemicals have been shown to be in the air from an e-cigarettes, it's not just water and nicotine," said Dr. Rob Klinestiver.

The board of health decided. "By the smallest of margins, e-cigarettes do fall under the definition of smoking."

The Board of County Commissioners had sought the recommendation of the county's Board of Health.