City commission introduces vape, e-cigarette ordinance

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The Manhattan City Commission introduced a resolution prohibiting vaping in public places and places of employment. This ordinance was first brought to the table in June.

Although there is an ordinance already about cigarette smoking in public spaces, the law does not cover the issue of vaping and per Kansas Statute 12-3013, the ordinance cannot be amended nor repealed for 10 years. Due to this statute, a new ordinance must be created to prohibit the smoking of e-cigarettes or vaporizers in public spaces.

“There currently are no state or local law (that) prohibits the smoking of e-cigarettes in public spaces” said Jared Wasinger, city management assistant, as he began the presentation of the proposed ordinance and how it may differ from the current city ordinance on cigarettes.

In May of 2016, the Food and Drug Administration extended its authority on e-cigarettes, prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes to minors and requiring companies to regulate their products. This law will take two years to go into full effect.

Since 2014, 10 other cities in Kansas have passed city ordinances prohibiting the smoking of e-cigarettes in public spaces.

Much of the proposed ordinance presented was similar to the current cigarette ordinance that is in place. Much of the new ordinance clarifies legal terms, definitions and ambiguity.

The ordinance states that smokers of e-cigarettes must be 20 feet from any access point to a public place, including windows or doors. Public places include any enclosed area into which the public is permitted.

No new signs will be put up but those signs do operate the same as they do for cigarettes.

Private residences are excluded in the ordinance, unless they are used as a day care.

The ordinance also exempts e-cigarette stores. There are three currently operating in Manhattan, and they will be able to continue to operate the same way as before and allow the public to taste and try out different vape flavors and vaporizers within the store.

Crayton Caswell, owner of Manhattan Vapors, addressed concerns about the consequence and health of citizens due to this ordinance.

“I am not here to fight this ordinance, but I am here to tell you that I still think that it’s not the greatest idea … In 2015, we saw a 2 percent drop in smoking rate in the United States, according to the CDC,” Caswell said. “That’s the largest drop in 20 years. And 2015 was also the first period of time when e-cigarettes were widely available on the market.”

He also said he has witnessed that firsthand at his business.

“My store has hundreds of success stories that shows that vaping helps people cut down or quit (on cigarettes),” Caswell said.

The enforcement of this ordinance, if it passed, would be the same as the current tobacco ordinance, which includes a $50 fine for the first violation, $100 for the second and $200 for the third.

Many of the commissioners, including Michael Dodson, voiced their concern of “lack of research” that has been done on the effects of vaping, which raised concerns of joining the two ordinances in 2019.

“My concern is that this industry will just get bigger and it’ll get harder and harder to ever reign it in … it’s better to catch it while it’s small enough that we can still make a difference for public health,” Commissioner Linda Morse said.

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