E-cigarettes may be included in Marshfield’s indoor smoking ban
Vape shops would be exception to the rule
By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — Use of electronic cigarettes in Marshfield could soon be banned in public indoor establishments.
On Tuesday the Marshfield Common Council directed the city attorney to draft a resolution amending the current ordinance that bans traditional smoking products in public indoor locations to include e-cigarettes. The council directed that “vape shops,” where these products are sold, should be exempt from the indoor ban, allowing patrons to sample electronic smoking options.
E-cigarettes use a flavored liquid and a heating device to vaporize that liquid, and the activity is often called “vaping,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
The council must still vote on a final ordinance, which City Administrator Steve Barg said would likely not occur “until at least some time in June.”
The exemption to allow sampling in vape shops would seem to run contrary to a new rule the Food and Drug Administration recently finalized, which expands the agency’s regulatory authority to include e-cigarettes.
“Before today there was no federal law prohibiting retailers from selling e-cigarettes, hookah tobacco, or cigars to people under age 18,” said a May 5 FDA press release. The new rule will not go into effect for about three months but will, among other powers, give the FDA greater ability to restrict access of these products to people under the age of 18. Provisions of the new rule include:
—Not allowing products to be sold to persons under the age of 18 years both in person and online.
—Requiring age verification by photo ID.
—Not allowing the selling of covered tobacco products in vending machines unless in an adult-only facility.
—Not allowing the distribution of free samples.
At Tuesday’s council meeting, Destinee Coenen of the Central Wisconsin Tobacco Free Coalition said of the FDA’s prohibition of free samples, “All signs point to this meaning no sampling of the product in the vape shops. This would mean that you could include vape shops into the (indoor prohibition) ordinance because the FDA has refined its restriction, and shops must comply.”
Alderman Ed Wagner said it was inherent to the business of vape shops to allow sampling of products and that it would be an “undue hardship to force them to stop doing that.”
Barg said he would soon meet with City Attorney Harold Wolfgram to discuss this issue. Wolfgram was not immediately available for comment.
Proponents of e-cigs say sampling is vital
Patti Arnold, co-owner of Central City Vapors, which sells e-cigarettes and vaporizers, said that people coming into a vape shop need to be able to experiment with the many choices offered to determine the right product.
“You’re able to change the voltage and the wattage and the air flow. You get less vapor in some, more vapor in others. You’re able to change the nicotine (level). For them to be able to try these devices and find what they’re getting from that cigarette or as close as they can is what they need to get off of the actual tobacco,” Arnold said.
Her goal in opening Central City Vapors, Arnold said, was to help people quit smoking and described a process where she helps customers wean their way off of nicotine by gradually reducing the amount used in their e-cigarettes.
“If you don’t want any nicotine, you don’t have to have nicotine in your vape,” Arnold said.
Central City Vapors has a “wall of success,” Arnold said, which recognizes people who have not used tobacco in at least three months, able to abstain by substituting an electronic device.
“There’s way less chemical(s) in a vape than there is a cigarette. It’s way safer. Is it better to not inhale anything? Of course it is. It always is. But when you’re a smoker and you’re addicted to that, at least you have a safer option here.”
Marshfield resident Ray Kesler said he began smoking when he was “younger than he should have been” and that e-cigarettes have helped him quit. He indicated that sampling in vape shops is essential.
“Sampling in shops is something that, it’s a part of business. It’s like going to a deli and asking for a sample of the food. You’re not going to spend $20 on a product that you can’t sample,” Kesler said.
Coenen, in an October 2015 letter to Hub City Times, wrote that, “The National Youth Tobacco Survey states that nonsmoking youth who use e-cigarettes are twice as likely as youth who do not use e-cigarettes to say they plan to start smoking cigarettes.” The locally conducted Youth Risk Behavior Survey showed that in 2015 about 24 percent of high school students had used “an electronic vapor product” within the past 30 days from the time of the survey.