City supports ban on indoor e-cigarette usage

Posted on Apr 17 2019 - 5:02am by David Ballowe

The proposed addition of all vaporizers to the Oxford Smoking Ban ordinance passed its second reading and public hearing without comment at this month’s second Board of Aldermen meeting.

“We listened to business owners, and they had some concerns,” Oxford Police Department Chief Jeff McCutchen said. “We wanted to make sure we protected them.”

By adding vaporizers to this ordinance, the city hopes to give business owners a means of defense when asking someone who is vaping inside to leave the premises, which is not currently outlined explicitly in the law.

Both McCutchen and Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannehill said that the goal of any ordinance they amend or create is not to write tickets or punish those involved but to change behavior. They said the addition of vaporizers to the ban is not intended to target those who use vaporizers to write them citations.

If passed and implemented by the city, business owners will have legal grounds to remove individuals who are using vaporizers from the premises as if they were smoking a cigarette.

McCutchen said the use of vaporizers is a public safety concern, citing the presence of harmful metals and chemicals that are harmful to the user’s health and the health of those around them.

The addition to the ordinance comes at a time when communities across the country are adding vaping to existing smoking bans.

“A lot of communities have also included (vaporizers, e-cigarettes) in their ‘No Smoking’ ordinances, and we felt like that was a wise move on our part,” Tannehill said.

The ban would apply to any indoor public space except retail tobacco stores that meet the city’s requirements for allowing smoking on premises.

The second reading passed quickly and with no comment from any of the board members, the mayor or the members of the public in attendance.

When asked what she would say to those who oppose the amendment, Tannehill said, “We didn’t hear from one person that didn’t support it. I wonder: Are there people out there that don’t support it?”

In a previous interview with The Daily Mississippian, Lee Harris, owner of Funky’s Pizza and Daiquiri Bar, said e-cigarettes do not really bother him because they don’t smell like cigarettes, and he has not had any problems or complaints regarding e-cigarettes in his establishment.

“It will make it more difficult for us to regulate, but there are positives and negatives to both (sides),” Harris said. “If it ever got to be a problem that my patrons complained about, then I would stop it immediately.”

The Board of Aldermen will meet again April 30, when the third and final reading and vote regarding this matter will be held.

“We’ll have our third (reading) and vote at the next meeting, but tonight was a public hearing, and we’ve advertised it, and there’s been an article about it, and I haven’t received one email or phone call from anyone that opposes it.”