ASHEVILLE, NC – The city voted to ban the use of electronic cigarettes on buses and in city facilities, including parks and the U.S. Cellular Center.
City Council voted 7-0 on the e-cigarette ban during a regular meeting. The ban was pulled off the consent agenda after council members wanted to discuss it.
E-cigarettes are devices that do not burn material, but that create vapor using a mechanical heating element, battery or electronic circuit. The devices are used to heat and vaporize a liquid solution in a cartridge usually containing nicotine.
Members of the city’s transit committee requested the ban after receiving complaints from bus riders about exposure to vapors, Martha W. McGlohon, deputy city attorney, said in a report to the council.
“While the long-term health effects of exposure to second-hand vapors emitted from e-cigarettes are unknown, according to a study conducted by the Federal Drug and Food Administration on two leading e-cigarette brands, there was evidence of toxic chemicals in both,” McGlohon said.
Some studies have shown the release of measurable amounts of carcinogens from exhaled vapors, she said.
“Finally, in the last six months, there have been battery explosions either during charging of the e-cigarette or while in use.”
Along with buses, e-cigarettes would be banned from city facilities and other local government facilities, including Asheville Regional Airport; Pack Place Education, Arts and Science Center; the U.S. Cellular Center and parks and greenways.
Violating the ban could bring a $50 fine.
Because e-cigarettes are not lighted tobacco products, they can’t be regulated like cigarettes, pipes or cigars, McGlohon said. But they can be regulated under the “police powers” that the state gives cities under North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 160A-174. Those allow the city “to define, regulate, prohibit or abate acts, omissions, or conditions detrimental to the health, safety or welfare of its citizens.”
City e-cigarette ban
Below are excerpts from the proposed ban:
(a) It shall be unlawful for any person to smoke tobacco or any other substance or carry lighted cigars, lighted cigarettes or lighted pipes including the use of e-cigarettes, on any bus operated as part of the local public transportation system of the city.
(b) It shall be unlawful for any person to smoke or carry a lighted cigarette, lighted cigar, lighted pipe, or any other lighted tobacco product including the use of e-cigarettes, in any building or facility or the grounds of any building or facility, or portion thereof, now or hereafter owned, leased, operated, occupied, managed or controlled by the city, the Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority, the Pack Place Education’s Arts and Science Center Inc., the Asheville Civic Center Commission, U.S. Cellular Center or the Housing Authority of the City of Asheville, except in smoking areas that may be specially designated as follows:
Continuing to smoke including the use of e-cigarettes in violation of this article constitutes an infraction, and the person committing the infraction may be punished by a fine of not more than $50.
Source Asheville Citizen-Times