New Howard County Bill Aims To Curb Using E-Cigarettes In Public

COLUMBIA, Md. (WJZ) — Vaping is a tobacco-less alternative to smoking. Now, some Howard County lawmakers are hoping to limit where vaping is allowed.

Amy Yensi with more on the controversy.

Some are worried that this vaping bill could be the beginning of more restrictions to come.

For Mitch Weitzman, vaping is both a source of income and a way of life. Vaping is a tobacco-free alternative to smoking that uses steam.

The former smoker and Vape Dojo clerk says e-cigarettes helped him kick the habit.

“One hit and I threw my cigarettes away and haven’t smoked since,” he said.

About ten percent of U.S. adults now vape, according to a recent Reuters Poll. That’s four times the government estimate.

Despite its appeal as less of a health hazard than smoking, a new Howard County bill aims to curb vaping in public.

The bill bans vaping everywhere traditional cigarettes are banned, including bars and restaurants.

“Everyone has the right to breathe clean indoor air,” said Sherry McCammon, American Cancer Society Canceer Action Network.

The American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network supports the ban.

“Much more research is needed to know what is actually in these products and what are the potential harmful effects,” said McCammon.

This year, the Food and Drug Administration is expected to complete rules that would require federal approval for nearly all flavored liquid nicotine juices and e-cigarette devices sold in vape shops.

Howard County businesses are split.

“It would limit our ability to vape. It would decrease. It would hurt vape in general,” said Weitzman.

Mark Hemmis owns The Phoenix Emporium. He banned vaping voluntarily.

“There’s blueberry and vanilla and flavors that just don’t mix well with a food service environment,” he said. “So we decided to get rid of them.”

The vote could happen as early as Friday. The jury is still out on whether the vaping benefits or worries are just smoke and mirrors.

When WJZ took the concerns of vape shop owners to the councilman who introduced this bill, he added a tobacco and vape shop exemption to it.

A similar vaping bill in Baltimore City failed last year.

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