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Janesville City Council expands ban on e-cigarettes

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Elliot Hughes
Monday, August 24, 2015

JANESVILLE—Vaporizing and smoking are now essentially one and the same under Janesville ordinance after the city council Monday banned electronic cigarettes from wherever tobacco cigarettes are already outlawed.

Just two months ago, the council agreed to forbid the use of e-cigarettes on city and school property, with a punishment of up to $250 in fines. Monday's move bans e-cigarettes wherever city ordinances and state law ban tobacco smoking.

The council approved the proposal 6-0. Council member Mark Bobzien was absent.

The ban includes places such as day care centers, inpatient health care facilities, theaters, restaurants, taverns, retail establishments, lodging establishments and residential common areas.

It also expands the city's ordinance to encompass all city property, including parks, trails and parking lots.

Exempted from the list are retail establishments that specialize in the sale of e-cigarettes and accessories.

“We're not here to restrict anyone's right to use these products, but the right to use those products ends when the smell from those products reaches my nose and the noses of those that are around me,” said council member Richard Gruber, who helped draft the proposal with member Sam Liebert.

E-cigarettes vaporize “e-liquid,” rather than burn tobacco. There is no clear consensus on the long-term health impacts of vaporizing or inhaling its secondhand emissions. Organizations such as the American Lung Association still advocate for caution, however.

The proposal drew nine speakers from the public and the presence of state Rep. Debra Kolste, D-Janesville, who has introduced similar legislation at the state level.

Three of those who spoke opposed the proposal, saying it was unfair for e-cigarettes to be treated like tobacco cigarettes.

Liebert acknowledge the difference when he said he felt more comfortable when his own mother transitioned from cigarettes to e-cigarettes. But he said he preferred to be cautious about public health and noted that the proposal would not regulate the industry “to death.”

Council Vice President Carol Tidwell also stated her support by saying that vaporizing is “more than an inconvenience or an annoyance to some people.” It would be “backwards” to allow vaporizing in restaurants, she said.

Similar bans have been adopted by various municipalities across the United States, including Madison.



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