Smoking ordinance discussed at City Commission meeting

While many argue that e-cigs are safer alternatives to cigarettes, studies show nicotine in e-cigs can still cause health issues. (Photo Illustration by George Walker | The Collegian)

The Manhattan City Commission met Wednesday evening in City Hall to discuss the combined smoking and e-cigarette ordinance.

In 2009, there was a petition-referendum process to potentially ban smoking in public places and in places of employment.

This ordinance can be amended after ten years. If amended, not only would Parks and Recreation spaces be smoke-free, but the ordinance would also prohibit smoking and the use of e-cigarettes in retail tobacco stores.

These new actions would allow current businesses to allow vaping and smoking on their premises but future businesses will be unable to do so.

Wynn Butler, city commissioner, spoke in favor of stricter regulations on the ordinance and wants no smoking or vaping to be allowed on public property, as long as it is in regulation with the ordinance.

“Personally, I am in favor of smoking to be done twenty feet from the building,” Butler said.

According to the ordinance, proprietors of public places, as noted in the meeting agenda, are required to post the international no smoking symbol and post that the use of e-cigarettes is prohibited on their properties.

Largely, youth and young adults were mentioned in the meeting about vaping use and how this ordinance will pertain to them.

Jennifer Green, administrative director with the Riley County Health Department, went to the meeting to champion stricter requirements for the ordinance.

“Young adults view vaping as less harmful,” Green said. “But if they are starting to smoke e-cigarettes now, they will smoke later.”

Green said young people are more likely to risk their health as they get older. It was noted during the meeting that the percentage of the young adults who use e-cigarettes and cigarettes has decreased 11 to 20 percent since the last ordinance was passed.

The ordinance will also affect local business owners and workers.

Barbara Lee Wilson, employee for Juicy’s Vapor Lounge, attended the meeting to talk about her smoking addiction. Vaping, she said, helped her to quit.

“I know that teen vaping is a problem,” Wilson said. “But this is an adult thing, and this is punishing adults.”

Wilson told the commissioners if it were not for transitioning to vaping, then she would not be here today.

Attendees also discussed whether the age limit to buy cigarettes or e-cigarettes should be brought up to 21 from 18.This can be decided at the county or state level.