Lexington is considering whether to add electronic cigarettes to its anti-smoking ordinance

The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council will discuss whether to expand its smoking ban to include electronic cigarettes, possibly as early as Oct. 7 at the General Government Committee meeting, Beth Musgrave reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Berea, Bardstown, Danville, Glasgow, Manchester and Richmond have banned included e-cigarettes in smoking bans; on Oct. 6 Versailles may do likewise. (The city is replacing a Woodford County Board of Health regulation that was ruled unconstitutional.)

Amy Barkley, chairwoman of the Smoke-Free Kentucky Coalition, told Musgrave that cities and states updating their anti-smoking ordinances to include e-cigarettes is “part of a trend,” and “Lexington has always been the leader in smoke-free policy in this state.”

But e-cigarettes have changed the terms of smoking-ban debates. Tony Florence, co-owner of 723 Vapor Store in Lexington, which sells e-cigarettes, told Musgrave, “It’s ludicrous to try to ban something that is trying to help people kick a horrible habit,” Florence said. “The way that I look at it, if you are anti e-cigarette then you are really pro-lung cancer.”

Gorton, who is a registered nurse, told Musgrave that she supported an amendment to the smoking ordinance because the Fayette County Board of Health recommended it. Gorton also noted that the state now bans all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, on most state properties and that Rupp Arena and the attached Lexington Convention Center do likewise.

Supporters of e-cigarette ordinances say the devices are not effective in helping people stop smoking and “not much is known about the effects of electronic cigarettes,” Musgrave reports. Barkley also told Musgrave that because e-cigarettes look like real cigarettes it “undermines the enforceability of smoking ordinances.”

The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate e-cigarettes. Smoke-free advocates, including Barkley say that “until the FDA regulates e-cigarettes, it’s best to include them in smoking bans,” Musgrave writes.

But Florence told Musgrave that “the federal government hasn’t acted on e-cigarettes for a reason: The research is not conclusive.”

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