Vaping and E-Cigarettes prohibited in certain indoor spaces in Eau Claire

Published: Aug. 11, 2020 at 10:16 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Since 2008, smoking tobacco has been prohibited inside public spaces in the city of Eau Claire.

But council members are re-visiting that existing ordinance and on Tuesday afternoon voted to amend it.

That comes after health officials say a new tobacco related trend has taken off in the city, vaping and e-cigarette usage.

12 years ago, the city of Eau Claire was one of the first in the state to ban smoking tobacco in all public indoor spaces.

Tuesday, the city council followed up banning vaping and e-cigarettes from those places as well.

“We care about the health and safety of people that are inside those spaces, both the employees and the customers, and vaping creates risk for people and creates indoor air that is not as healthy and safe as all of us want,” said Eau Claire City-County Health Department Director Lieske Giese.

The idea of changing the existing ordinance had been in the works for months, but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

City council members calling the addition to the ordinance a necessary move.

“I think that this is a very important public health matter and I also want to compliment the public health department for their leadership and really getting some comprehensive community support,” said Eau Claire City Council Vice President Catherine Emmanuelle.

Some of the community support comes from local businesses, including Wagner’s Lanes and The Complexx.

In a statement it says in part quote,

“Our agency has noticed a large number of people, especially young people, vaping as this trend has continued. With such a mix of people within our facility we want to make sure that our guests have the opportunity to be in a smoke and vape free environment. We are firmly committed to this effort and see this as an important step for our community to take.”

Health officials in Eau Claire say the greatest rise in vaping or e-cigarette use is among teenagers.

Between 2015 and 2019, there was a 142 percent increase in e-cigarette use by high school students in the county according to the Eau Claire County Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

“Our local data that we collect every year from high school and middle school students shows the dramatic increase even in that population and that’s the place where we’re most concerned,” explained Giese.

Anyone found to violate the ordinance could face a fine anywhere from $60 to $500.

Between vaping and COVID-19, a new Stanford study suggests teenagers who vape are up to seven times more likely to get coronavirus than those who don't vape.

During the meeting Tuesday, the city council also passed the Railroad City Parking Lot project unanimously.

The project will create a five-story building with apartments and commercial space along the Eau Claire River between North Farwell and North Barstow Streets.

The project had caused some controversy with two business owners saying the project would take away from their patio space.

The council also passed an amendment for the developer to continue to work with those business owners to reasonably accommodate the patio space.

Copyright 2020 WEAU. All rights reserved.

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