Lexington County considers prohibiting vaping in public, places of work

LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC (WIS) - The Lexington County Council is considering an ordinance that would group vaping into the same definition of smoking, effectively prohibiting users from vaping in public and places of employment.

Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling aerosol, often referred to as vapor, which can be produced by an e-cigarette or similar device. It consists of a mouthpiece, battery, cartridge for containing the e-liquid or e-juice as well as a heating component for the device that is powered by a battery.

When heated up, the e-liquid is turned into an aerosol that is then inhaled and exhaled. It does not contain tobacco.

At a county council meeting Tuesday night, the council voted to approve the second reading of the ordinance, following a public hearing on the topic a few weeks ago.

"No one showed up to the public hearing," County Council Chairman Debbie Summers said.

The ordinance will be considered in a final third reading when it has the opportunity to be formally voted on.

But some worry the ordinance is only about appearance.

"I think the trend of vaping has really surged among the younger demographic," Mary Bryson, a resident said. "I think it's branded as a healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes since it's only nicotine and not tobacco."

Chairman Debbie Summers said the issue was brought up a couple of months ago by a fellow board member strictly for the health risks vaping poses.

"There was a lot of controversy in 2009 when the county passed the smoking ban and we really aren't seeing that resistance this time around so it just goes to show how perspectives change over time," Summers said.

Bryson said common courtesy can always be used by both those smoking cigarettes and vape pens.

"Obviously no one wants it blown in their face, but that just comes down to being aware of who is around you and being courteous," Bryson said. "If someone chooses to use it, that's on them. From what I've seen, there isn't a lot of research or evidence yet that points to harmful effects of second-hand smoke from vaping."

Several vape shops in Lexington County said they are unable to comment on the health effects of vape pens compared to traditional cigarettes, according to FDA regulations.

Summers anticipates the ordinance will be enforced shortly after it is formally voted on at the next meeting.

"Like many of our ordinances, it's complaint-driven," Summers said. "So if we receive a complaint we will look into it and give the person a verbal warning. If they comply, it's over. But it's when they refuse to comply that there will be consequences in terms of a fine."

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