Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

County Council Passes Vaping Ban in Close Vote Fitzgerald Signature Expected after 8-5 Decision

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

County Council Passes Vaping Ban in Close Vote Fitzgerald Signature Expected after 8-5 Decision

Article excerpt

Allegheny County Council on Tuesday decided to ban the use of electronic vapor devices in public indoor places.

The controversial ban, which was approved in an 8-5 vote, relegates the use of e-cigarettes and handheld vaporizers to the same status as tobacco products, forbidden in locations such as schools, government buildings, sports stadiums, restaurants and similar spaces.

The measure, which was supported by the Allegheny County Board of Health and county Executive Rich Fitzgerald, will take effect once Mr. Fitzgerald signs it into law.

Voting for the ban were Patrick Catena, Jim Ellenbogen, Paul Klein, Bob Macey, Chuck Martoni, John Palmiere, Denise Ranalli-Russell and DeWitt Walton. Tom Baker, Samuel DeMarco III, Ed Kress, Cindy Kirk and Sue Means voted against it.

Council president John DeFazio abstained. Council member Nicholas Futules, who was absent, also abstained.

A two-hour debate on the ban was intense but never heated as the members were professionally courteous.

Opponents Mr. DeMarco and Ms. Means argued that despite the opinion of the county solicitor, they do not believe the county has the authority to ban vaping, something they noted the state Legislature could do but has not. They also said they thought the potential fines attached to the measure - which can run into thousands of dollars - are too harsh.

Ms. Kirk said she was troubled by the ban's impact on businesses' freedoms.

In supporting the ban, Mr. Klein said he did not believe the council could pass a public health question along to businesses to decide.

Mr. Ellenbogen said he voted for the ban because he didn't consider it a tremendous burden to require people wishing to vape to go outside, away from those bothered or concerned by the vapor. He said he wasn't convinced vaping is safe and preferred to err on the part of caution.

Mr. Fitzgerald, speaking earlier Tuesday, said the ban "sends a signal that Allegheny County is a vibrant place for healthy living and quality of life. …

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