Vapers and businesses upset as e-cig ban takes effect Sept. 1

Updated: Sunday, August 31 2014, 09:13 PM MDT
Vapers and businesses upset as e-cig ban takes effect Sept. 1 story image

By Crystal Price
EL PASO, Texas -- E-cigarette users in the Borderland are preparing for a citywide e-cigarette ban set to take effect Sept. 1.

The city's ordinance bans the use of electronic cigarettes and vaping everywhere smoking is prohibited. This includes inside public places like restaurants, bars, and movie theaters. Smoking is not allowed within 20 feet of entrances of enclosed public places.

Some e-cigarette smokers and vapers in El Paso are upset the the new ban is placing e-cigarette smokers in the same category as regular smokers.

Morgan Guthrie, a resident of northeast El Paso, said vaping is not the same thing as regular smoking.

"It’s a safer alternative," Guthrie said.

Guthrie said he started vaping one year ago.

"I used to be a two-pack a day smoker for maybe three or four years, I lost track after a while," Guthrie said.

Guthrie said vaping is what helped him give up regular smoking altogether.

"I've actually been cigarette free for a year," Guthrie said.

Guthrie said he's not too upset by the ban. But he added that it is just now an inconvience he has to go outside to smoke.

"Am I angry? No, it was bound to happen," Guthrie said. "Is it a bit excessive? Yes and no. I guess we've just got to be more cautious of where we use our electronic cigarettes."

Officials with the city of El Paso's Department of Public Health said the reasoning behind the ban is because there isn't a lot of information about electronic cigarettes.

"We don’t know the potential risks for using electronic cigarettes," said Sarai Garcia, a health educator with the department of public health. "A second reason is because we don’t know how much nicotine people are using. We want the public to breathe clean air and we want that to take priority over the decision to use tobacco and to smoke."

The staff at Adrian's bar in east El Paso said they implemented the ban over the weekend just to get customers prepared.

Astrad Diaz, a bartender at Adrian's, said customers did not welcome the idea with open arms when they were told they could no longer smoke their e-cigs.

"It was a group of them and I think they got kind of bothered because I made them stop and they left," Diaz said.

Diaz argues that the air inside the bar is clean even when customers vape or smoke e-cigarettes.

"It wasn't dirty to begin with, I mean they smell good," Diaz said. "They don't have tobacco, there's nothing wrong with them."

Diaz said she fears the bar could lose business as 30 percent of their customers smoke e-cigarettes or vapes.

"I hope not, but probably," Diaz said. "Just because people are used to it and I guess they're going somewhere else to see if they can do it over there."

The second phase of the citywide e-cigarette smoking ban will take effect Jan. 1, 2015. In this phase, e-cigarettes will be banned in all city-owned property which includes city parks, recreation centers, city buildings, and city department buildings.

E-cigarette smoking will also be banned 20 feet within transportation shelters, platforms, and bus stops.

Fines for violating the new ordinance range from $100 to $500.

Vapers and businesses upset as e-cig ban takes effect Sept. 1
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