Electronic smoking devices and vaping will be treated as cigarettes and smoking under a proposal that received final approval during Tuesday night’s meeting of the Columbus City Council. However, the change won’t take effect for 60 days.
Kylee Jones, tobacco awareness coordinator with Healthy Communities at Columbus Regional Health made a presentation to Columbus City Council in June, asking for the amendment. She was joined earlier this month by other supporters of the measure, including representatives from Columbus Regional Health and the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation. All of those who spoke in favor of the ordinance specifically said it is needed to insure the health of area youth.
Council members wrestled with the question for about 30 minutes after concerns were raised Tuesday night. There are three vape shops in city limits, according to city officials. Under current state law, smoke shops and tobacco stores are exempt from the smoking statute. However, there is no state law that specifically addresses vape shops. As currently written, the city ordinance would not exempt vape shops from the ban. In an effort to better serve the entire community, council voted to include the 60-day implementation phase with the idea that the city’s Ordinance Review Committee can fine-tune the ordinance and add vape shops to the list of exempted locations. That passed 6-1 with Councilman Dascal Bunch voting “no.” He expressed concerns that the 60-day implementation period will result in unforeseen circumstances for the city. If the committee fails to propose any changes to the ordinance, it will go into effect, as is, on October 16th.
The vote to pass the amended ordinance passed unanimously.