Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

City Leaders to Discuss Banning Use of Electronic Cigarettes in Enclosed Public Places

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

City Leaders to Discuss Banning Use of Electronic Cigarettes in Enclosed Public Places

Article excerpt

Leonardo DiCaprio and Johnny Depp are among celebrities who have been caught on camera using electronic cigarettes, which enable nicotine users to puff out vapor instead of tobacco smoke.

"E-cigarettes" have become increasingly popular since being introduced in 2004, and some praise them as being a good way to help wean people off regular cigarettes.

But Topeka City Councilwoman Elaine Schwartz says questions about the safety of e-cigarettes have prompted many cities -- including the Kansas communities of Olathe, Overland Park, McPherson and Kansas City -- to prohibit their use in enclosed public places.

Topeka's governing body on Tuesday will consider Schwartz's proposal to expand the city's ban on smoking in most enclosed public buildings to include prohibiting the use of e-cigarettes, also known as "vaping." The city currently lets owners of such buildings decide whether to allow e-cigarette users to puff away indoors.

Schwartz's proposal would:

- Define "electronic cigarette" as an "electronic and/or battery operated device that may resemble a cigarette, but uses an atomizer or similar device that allows users to inhale nicotine vapor or other flavored vapor without fire, smoke or ash."

- Redefine "smoking" in a manner that includes the use of electronic cigarettes.

- Require businesses -- which currently must post signs that make it clear they ban smoking -- to ensure their signs make it clear the ban includes electronic cigarettes.

- Create an exception -- as the current ban does with regular cigarettes -- allowing the use of e-cigarettes in retail "smoke shops" that sell them.

One local retailer that sells e-cigarettes is E-Vape Shop in the West Ridge Mall, where owner Alex Noor feels concerned that the passage of Schwartz's proposal would drive E-Vape Shop out of business.

Noor sells e-cigarettes out of businesses he operates in Lawrence, Ottawa and Knob Noster, Mo., he said.

Noor said Friday, "No scientific evidence exists to prove e- cigarettes are harmful."

Schwartz indicated at the council's Aug. …

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