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Say goodbye soon to vaping in the park or bars in Austin

Austin City Council members on Thursday asked staffers to add electronic cigarettes to the list of tobacco products covered by city ordinances, adding them to existing bans. City policies disallow smoking in public places including city parks, bars and restaurants.

The move to include e-cigarettes passed unanimously on the consent agenda, with no discussion, though Council Member Delia Garza did comment that she considered it a victory for public health and overall clarity of city positions.

Even bars and restaurants … feel like they can’t tell a customer not to do that because there’s this gray area in the law

She said

Staffers will draw up the new wording and bring it back for final City Council approval in the next three months.

Groups, including the American Cancer Society and the Food and Drug Administration, have warned about risks associated with e-cigarettes, noting that they contain nicotine and some have been found to contain other chemicals. The FDA noted last year that it hasn’t received conclusive clinical studies about the safety of the products.

More than a dozen advocates of the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network came to the meeting Thursday in “Austin breathes vape-free air” T-shirts to support the council’s move.

Charlie Gagen, a spokesman for the group, said afterwards that he was pleased to see the council crack down on the use of e-cigarettes. They still need more study, but the products do include harmful particles, he said, and are booming in popularity with young people.

Other Central Texas governments in recent years have added e-cigarettes to their smoking bans. Travis County and Williamson County have banned all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, in government buildings. The cities of San Marcos and Georgetown went a step further, prohibiting smoking and the use of vapor cigarettes in government facilities as well as most public places, including bars, restaurants, shops and other workplaces.

Supporters of vaping were dismayed by the Austin City Council’s vote on Thursday. Charlie Hodge, president of the Texas E-cigarette and Vaping Association, called e-cigarettes “99 percent less harmful than cigarettes” and said he was disheartened the city hadn’t reached out to work with local advocates of the industry.

Most people who smoke e-cigarettes are people trying to quit smoking real ones, and they might be discouraged by the council’s action

It’s deadly, It encourages them not to quit. … E-cigarettes are a harm-reduction device if there’s ever been one.

Hodge said of the vote.

Source: My State Man

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