Lawmakers in a Mississippi town moved to ban the use of electronic cigarettes in all public areas of the community, following a national trend to restrict the devices at the local level.
The Board of Alderman in Starkville, Miss., passed the ban Tuesday in a unanimous vote to included e-cigarettes and other vapor products in their definition of tobacco products. Localities across the country are passing ordinances that conflate vaping devices with traditional tobacco, ignoring the fact e-cigarettes only contain nicotine and none of the carcinogenic chemicals found in cigarettes, reports WCBI.
Officials in Starkville passed an ordinance banning smoking in public places nearly a decade ago before the emergence of e-cigarettes. Vape shop owners in the community are highly critical of the new restrictions, which they say will reduce their customer base and potentially devastate their financial outlooks.
“I think it just shows that we continue to be a leader and being concerned about our citizens health, and in our quality-of-life,” Mayor Lynn Spruill told WCBI. “All of those things are impacting what we are trying to do and make Starkville be the best place that he can be for people to live, work, play, and learn.”
Officials in Starkville say the move shows the community their leaders are serious about protecting health standards, but public health experts argue policies that do not differentiate between the safety profile of traditional tobacco and vapor products actually undermine public health by denying smokers a less harmful alternative that cuts risk to themselves and those around them.
They say these policies will make it less likely that smokers in the area will attempt to quit, arguing the fear tactics used to push such bans ignore permanent science, leaving the public misinformed and stigmatizing the use of a safer alternative.
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