City Council considers adding e-cigarettes to smoking ban

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)- It’s an ordinance that's been on the books in Eau Claire County for more than a month. Now the City of Eau Claire is looking to add to its smoking ordinance, banning e-cigarette use in and around city facilities.

Right now city ordinance bans the use of cigarette smoking within 25 feet of buildings like City Hall.

Monday night the Eau Claire City Council introduced an ordinance that would add electronic cigarettes to the cities smoking ban too.

“I smoked for ten years and I just recently switched to using more e-cigs,” Trenity White said.

For White, smoking used to mean lighting up, now it’s as simple as taking out his e-cig and turning it on.

White says he uses his e-cig at places around Eau Claire, sometimes with mixed reaction from others.

“I get looks from people who really don't know what it is yet. I don't think they understand the concept behind it as much,” White explained.

Kyle Anderson, the owner of E-Cig 53 in Eau Claire says since he first opened up shop in November business has been steady with customers looking to make the switch from cigarettes to e-cigs. When it comes to using e-cigs in public, Anderson has a simple message for customers.

“Have tact and be respectful,” Anderson said.

Anderson says vapors emitted from e-cigs have not been proven to be harmful to others but Eau Claire City Council member Kathy Mitchell says it’s better to be safe than sorry. That's why she's proposing a change to the cities smoking ordinance.

“The city already has an ordinance that bans cigarettes on our facilities our busses and the school facilities so this just adds things like e-cigarettes to that ordinance,” Mitchell explained.

Mitchell says since research hasn't shown what effect the vapors can have it’s better to err on the side of caution.

“Public health is all about prevention and the possibility that e-cigarettes present a health risk to the public is the reason we are bringing this to the public,” she said.

Monday night’s introduction of the ordinance is just the first step in the process. The Eau Claire City Council will hold a public discussion on the ordinance at its next meeting on July 7th. The council would then vote on the ordinance at its meeting July 8th. Mitchell said if approved at that meeting, the ordinance would take effect in mid-July.

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