Oklahoma Town Bans E-Cigarettes on Public Property

momentimedia/Flickrmomentimedia/FlickrIn an attempt to mitigate the dangers of smoking, one Oklahoma town passed a surprising ordinance last week to ban the use of smokeless e-cigarettes on public property.

The ordinance, which was approved by the Ada City Council and will go into effect in November, bans the public use of traditional tobacco products as well as electronic cigarettes. Residents will soon be forbidden from lighting up—or vaping—on all government-owned property, ranging from parks to indoor and outdoor government facilities. Offenders could be fined up to $500 for violating the ban.

In an interview with local news station KWII, Angela Harjo, the Tobacco Prevention Coordinator for the Pontotoc County Health Department, explained the motivation for banning public use of e-cigarettes: 

[E-cigarettes have] far less carcinogens, and we're not saying to completely outlaw or ban [them]. We're just asking to treat them as a tobacco product and limit the exposure and second hand exposure, especially exposure to our youth.

Ada City Councilman Bryan Morris said that while the ban is about “being considerate to those in parks and other public places,” the city could receive a $100,000 grant from the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust for including e-cigarettes in the ordinance.

Ada’s new law is hardly an anomaly. Increasing numbers of town councils are passing ordinances that heavily regulate the sale, purchase, or public use of the smokeless, tobacco-less, tar-less e-cigarettes. The FDA, which considered completely banning e-cigarettes in 2009, is expected to propose extensive regulations for them by the end of this month.

Why are cities and health agencies cracking down on e-cigarettes? As Reason’s Jacob Sullum has extensively reported, such regulations fail to accurately account for their real (relatively harmless) risks:

Even the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)… concedes "e-cigarettes appear to have far fewer of the toxins found in smoke compared to traditional cigarettes." Boston University public health professor Michael Siegel, who supports vaping as a harm-reducing alternative to smoking, notes that "we actually have a much better idea what is in electronic cigarette vapor than what is in tobacco smoke."

As a result, Sullum wrote, imposing these regulations could be seriously hazardous to smokers’ health:

Survey data indicate that e-cigarette use is overwhelmingly concentrated among current and former smokers.

It's in the shift from the former category to the latter that the disease-reducing potential of e-cigarettes lies. Impeding that transition by imposing arbitrary restrictions on e-cigarette advertising, sales, and flavors would be a literally fatal error.

For more Reason coverage of e-cigarettes, watch a Reason TV interview with the CEO of e-cigarette maker NJOY here. Watch a Reason TV video on the heavy price of FDA regulations below: 

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  • Hugh Akston||

    That NJOY guy must have written one hell of a check.

  • ||

    I wonder when they started donating? Reason has been covering the e-cig nonsense for a while.

  • williamh||

    E-cigarettes are an amazing creation of the free market. Since the day they were introduced in the U.S., government and pharma-funded have tried to ban them despite there being no evidence of harm. They are the perfect topic for Reason to write about because the opponents are either prohibitionists or those seeking to use the government to protect a private industry, or both.

    I'm thankful Reason, and particularly Jacob Sullum, has followed this issue so closely.

  • SIV||

    "He throws world class cocktail parties"

  • Sigivald||

    We're just asking to treat them as a tobacco product and limit the exposure and second hand exposure, especially exposure to our youth.

    "We're just treating them like something they aren't, and making up threats that don't remotely exist", got it.

  • Loki||

    Don't forget, FOR TEH CHILRUNZ!

  • CE||

    Governments at all levels, helping you to death.

  • Invisible Finger||

    the city could receive a $100,000 grant from the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust for including e-cigarettes in the ordinance.

    So the settlement actually HELPS the tobacco companies by eliminating future competing technologies.

    "Helping you to death" is exactly right.

  • ||

    It satisfies the cronyists, it satisfies the irrational health Nazis, it satisfies the "for the children" crowd, and it satisfies the CONTROL crowd. The only ones it doesn't satisfy are the people who want to use a vaper in public because they're trying to quit far more unhealthy cigarettes. What's not to like?

    Remember, it's all for their own good.

  • ||

    I'd like to know how the fuck they would enforce it though. I've vaped in bars, movie theaters, airplanes, etc. No one has said shit ever. In a place like a plane I just hold in the vapor long enough that you can't even see it being inhaled, nobody would know.

  • ||

    *exhaled

  • ||

    I'm actually pretty amazed that you were able to vape on a plane. I just always assume there will be some animist moron who sees it and complains, and the flight attendant will rather tell you to knock it off than try to explain to the animist that it's not actually smoke.

  • ||

    And I would completely understand the flight attendant's reaction and would save it for the toilet or something. I don't do it blatantly though, I just bend my head down with my hands covering it up and hold in the vapor long enough that none comes out when I exhale. I don't use some giant vapor either in these kind of situations, just a 510 style one that fits in my pocket easily.

    The thing I was most curious about was what TSA would think of the vaping liquid but they don't appear to look at the liquid bag to closely.

  • ||

    Just say it's for your asthma or something.

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    How does banning real cigarettes help the tobacco companies? As I said below, I'll bet the kids there can't smoke in school anymore either, like when I was a kid.

  • ||

    They were going to ban the real ones in public anyway. By including e-cigs in the ban, they're helping the tobacco companies by hurting their new upstart competition, the e-cigs.

  • Ska||

    I guess it's time to order a liter of ejuice just in case.

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    If anybody wants to challenge this in court,I've got some ideas:

    get fined/arrested for smoking pure water vapor, with no tobacco at all. Then fight it.

    Make em us a gas chromatograph everytime they want to prosecute this. And make them define exactly what chemicals they have a problem with.

    Then make a e-cig with a button on it, so if the button isn't pressed, you are just smoking water vapor. But if button is pressed then you are getting nicotine.

    If you can get them to outlaw breathing of water vapor, you can declare victory and move on.

  • Major Johnson||

    +1.

    They actually make a liquid with no nicotine at all, so you can still get satisfy the tactile habit nicotine free. I'd seek out non-vaping areas just to do this. Even non vaping L's could do it just to piss off the government.

  • Hyperion||

    Make em us a gas chromatograph everytime they want to prosecute this

    Hey, thanks for the idea for my new crony bucks startup company!

    /needz moar crony bucks

  • Loki||

    make them define exactly what chemicals they have a problem with.

    I'm pretty sure it's just the nicotene they have a problem with. Because it's addictive and people enjoy it. Can't have that, now can we? /Derpity Derpty Dumb!

  • Hyperion||

    You biological resources aren't as productive when you're enjoying yourselves! You're costing us our money! And now we have to pay for your healthcare, you ungrateful little peons! Now put down that ... thing .. whatever it is and get back to producing us some more revenue! You didn't ask our permission to have that! We'll decide what's best for you!

    This is exactly the way they think.

  • Agammamon||

    The problem there is the government will just make a per se law saying using vaporizer is, by itself, illegal.

    Its the same thing they did with DUI - originally they had to prove impairment and that was too hard so they said that if the machine reads .08 you're impaired *by definition* - problem solved.

  • Hyperion||

    And who knows what they are really vaporizing in that thing! We don't know what it is, how can we be sure it's safe? For the children!

  • General Butt Naked||

    IT COULD BE KROKODIL!!!

    OR TEH BATHSALTZ!!!onety/1/1!

  • Major Johnson||

    "the city could receive a $100,000 grant from the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust"

    Ah, government rejecting science and punishing the citizenry in pursuit of the almighty dollar ... who could have seen that coming?

  • Knarf Yenrab (prev. An0nB0t)||

    [E-cigarettes have] far less carcinogens, and we're not saying to completely outlaw or ban [them].

    They have fewer carcinogens, you fascist illiterate.

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    So they banned the tobacco and anything that might be confused for tobacco. Where the hell is that all powerful Big Tobacco lobby? I'll bet you can't smoke in school there either, like you could when I was a kid.

    And what about all that crap I heard about the "wild" West? Prohibition does not sound very wild to me.

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    Are we talking government property here, or anyplace the government says it has an interest, like your front yard, or "places of public accommodation?"

  • Loki||

    The ordinance, which was approved by the Ada City Council and will go into effect in November, bans the public use of traditional tobacco products as well as electronic cigarettes.

    Coming soon: an increase in the number of nicotene fits on public property in Ada, OK.

    In all seriousness though, these fucking busybodies need to go fuck themselves. The Puritans never really went away, they just stopped wearing funny hats and ran for town councils.

  • Hyperion||

    What this all comes down to is that people figured out a away to beat the control freaks and the control freaks are freaking out, which is what they do best.

    Look, they're smoking and we banned smoking! What, there's no smoke?... No matter!, we told them they can't do .... something ..., who do they think they are?!

  • ||

    While this is true for some, to me this is actually very similar to the gun banners. The gun banners, and these cigarette haters too, are animists. They have totemized an object as evil and given it a magical spirit with it is imbued. With the former, it's guns. With the latter, it's cigarettes. Anything that looks like the object they've totemized scares them. That's why a kid chewing his pop-tart into the shape of a pistol gets him suspended. That's why e-cigs are being banned all over the place, even though they aren't producing smoke.

    These people are superstitious morons who are afraid of inanimate objects and tools. They are really, really, really fucking stupid. That's why they do seemingly ridiculous things like suspend a kid for bringing in an action figure with a tiny plastic gun. To us it's utterly irrational...because it is. They are not rational people.

  • ||

    Did I miss the memo on using the word 'animists?" Is this word to describe progressives?

    /bows head humbly.

  • Poltroon||

    Spot on Hyperion, My sentiments exactly!

  • Hyperion||

    These people are superstitious morons who are afraid of inanimate objects and tools

    And they typically call them self progressive and somehow have gained rule over the more logical folks among us.

  • ||

    Well, there are a lot of them. Also, they tend to be tireless in their attempts to ban whatever they totemize, because they really view these things as evil, whereas we see them as tools and objects. Superstition and stupidity are a dangerous and highly motivating combination.

  • Hyperion||

    Can we totemize them? They're definitely evil. Good intentions doesn't change that.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Ada Oklahoma? Well I guess public health nannyism is not limited to progressives (because Ada, Oklahoma is not what one would call a progressive enclave).

  • SIV||

    Fuck off you lying sockpuppet.

    Pontotoc County, OK
    Voter Registration and Party Enrollment as of January 15, 2012

    Democratic 12,556 62.63%
    Republican 5,449 27.18%
    Unaffiliated 2,044 10.19%

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    BURN!

  • R C Dean||

    My personal favorite is the claim that they are doing this limit second-hand exposure . . . . to water vapor?

  • Poltroon||

    The fact that it isn't possible for anything but water vapor to be expelled from a vaper's lungs and mouth doesn't seem to get in the way of the Ada city council's decision. And it isn't possible for anyone to be affected in any way by that water vapor. So what is the reason for the ban? The only thing I can come up with is they are attempting to justify their salary by looking like they are highly concerned about the citizens. Just Okies bein'Okies I guess. I am not in favor of smoking in any way but just as an aside there has never been a verified case of a person being affected adversely by second hand smoke. (do the research)

  • Pope Jimbo||

    You monsters are forgetting about the slippery slope of freedom!.


    Council member Linda Krug told MPR's The Daily Circuit that e-cigarettes have made it more complicated to enforce the statewide smoking ban.

    "From a distance, I would argue you can't tell the difference. So how can you go to this one person and say 'oh, that's tobacco, you're out of here' and 'oh wait, that's not, that's an e-cigarette so you can stay?'" she asked. "Once you start picking and choosing what's allowed, that's a slippery slope you go down."

    Thank you to Ms. Krug for having the guts to save us all (or at least the residents of Duluth).

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Residents will soon be forbidden from lighting up—or vaping—on all government-owned property, ranging from parks to indoor and outdoor government facilities.

    Can we disabuse ourselves of the idea that there is such a thing as "government owned property?" It's property that is owned by the fucking taxpayers. Government simply manages said property.

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