GREENFIELD (AP) — Electronic-cigarette users say they will continue their fight against a ban of the devices in public places, even though their effort Tuesday before the Hancock County Health Board was to no avail.
County officials decided in February that e-cigarettes should be considered like any other cigarette or cigar and banned in public places such as restaurants and stores.
But a social media campaign and petition drive brought about 15 protesters of the ban to the health board Tuesday. After about 30 minutes of discussion, the board unanimously decided to stand by the legal interpretation that e-cigarettes are smoking devices.
"You're inhaling and you're exhaling; it doesn't matter what it is. You're smoking," said board member Susan Condo.
Stephanie Rogers, owner of the Vapor Lock store in Greenfield, said while she was disappointed the board didn't take the time to become more educated about the product, she will continue her push against the ban.
"This just started. This is day one," she said.
Electronic cigarettes are battery-operated and deliver nicotine to the lungs, but they don't use tobacco. E-cigarettes were introduced in the United States in 2006, and while officials across the country have been debating how to regulate them, users say they are a healthier alternative to smoking and should be acceptable in public places. In February, Hancock County health officer Dr. Sandra Aspy told county commissioners she believes the county's 2008 no-smoking ordinance includes e-cigarettes and that they should be banned in public places. People caught smoking in a public place could be subject to a $50 fine, with escalating fines for repeat offenders, according to the Daily Reporter.
Commissioners agreed with Aspy, following a trend in an increasing number of communities to ban the devices.
But Rogers says local officials don't have enough information about the product to make an informed decision, and she was disappointed Tuesday the health board wasn't more receptive to the packet of material she presented.