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Electronic Cigarettes Added to Smoking Prohibitions

Electronic cigarettes have been added to City of Georgetown rules that prohibit smoking in indoor public places and businesses. The ordinance also prohibits the sale of electronic cigarettes to persons under 18 or their sale in vending machines. The City Council approved the second and final reading of the revised smoking ordinance at their regular meeting on Tuesday. The ordinance takes effect April 23.

In the City Council deliberations about the ordinance, concerns were raised about the health effects of e-cigarettes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not fully studied e-cigarettes, so potential health risks are undetermined. According to an FDA consumer statement in 2009, testing of cartridges from two leading brands of e-cigarettes detected diethylene glycol, a toxic chemical used in antifreeze. “Several other samples were found to contain carcinogens,” according to the statement.

The new Georgetown ordinance adds electronic cigarettes, electronic vaping devices, liquid nicotine, and other electronic nicotine delivery devices to the existing smoking ordinance. The use of electronic cigarettes and other electronic vaping devices is now prohibited in restaurants, bars, retail stores, taxis, buses, government buildings, art galleries, health care facilities, hotels, school buildings and property, and theaters in Georgetown. Other places are specified in the ordinance.

The ordinance also prohibits persons under the age of 18 from possessing or purchasing e-cigarettes. While state law prohibits the sale of tobacco products to minors, state law does not yet address e-cigarettes. The ordinance also prohibits vending machine sales of e-cigarettes since those are not yet covered by state law. The ordinance also prevents e-cigarettes from being directly accessible to minors on a retail countertop.

Exemptions to the smoking ordinance include private membership clubs, private residences, and private vehicles.