The debate between the benefits of e-cigarettes and their side effects is battle playing out across the country and in Arizona; the latest front is in Tempe, where the concern for public health won — at least for now. The City Council approved a bill to prohibit the use of e-cigarettes in restaurants, bars, parks, and other ‘enclosed’ public facilities in August. This bill follows a similar pattern as the city’s smoking laws, which also prohibits smokers from sparking up in public facilities. Thus, Tempe became the first Arizona city to ban the use of ecigs in public areas, joining a growing number of municipalities nationwide.

tempe ecig banThe proponents of this bill claim the measure will protect the public from the likely adverse effects of second-hand vaping, but critics believe it is solely a ploy by lawmakers to control a thriving new industry.At the same time, they point out that there is no way to know whether the ordinance is warranted because the federal Food and Drug Administration has yet to decide how or whether to regulate these devices.

‘It’s terrible, it’s a terrible idea, people use these things, so they don’t have to go outside the problem is we’re still being grouped with smokers, oh you can go smoke outside so you can go vape outside, I don’t want to be around smokers,’ said an opponent of the bill.

The battery-powered gizmos usually referred to as ‘e-cigarettes’ or ‘vaporizers,’ release vapor that contains nicotine and other chemicals but at significantly lower levels than their tobacco counterparts. The debate over the product focuses on the lack of convincing medical research with regard to the health of users and those in the proximity and the long term effects these devices have on humans and the environment.

Mark Mitchell, the actual Mayor of the city shared some of his opinions on this bill, referring to pseudo-science as reasoning for the measure.

‘Traditional cigarettes have been banned in public places since 2002 and all we did was move e-cigarettes into the same classification,’ said Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell.

‘It was clear to us that e-cigarettes and the vapor that is emitted from them is likely a public health hazard,” he added. ‘You’re breathing in the vapor that’s emitted from e-cigarettes that contains some levels of nicotine, some levels of toxins and formaldehyde.’

Business owners or patrons who want to stop someone from inhaling vapors in prohibited settings can call the Tempe Police Department, which will enforce the ban. The punishment is the same as for a tobacco violation, a civil penalty of $50 on the first offense and $75 fine for subsequent offenses.

‘This proposed rule is the latest step in our efforts to make the next generation tobacco-free,’ former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius declared back in an April news release outlining the future regulation.