Council to consider policy banning e-cigs in public

The Austin City Council could turn a one-year ban on e-cigarette smoking in public places into a permanent policy.

Last April, the council passed a moratorium banning the use of e-cigarettes and hookahs in public places and businesses. Yet the issue divided the council, which voted 4-3 for the ban twice before enacting it.

The council will re-examine the issue during a work session Tuesday. City of Austin offices are closed Monday for Presidents Day.

The moratorium bans e-cigarette use in public places, similar to tobacco products. It does not prevent e-cigarettes from being sold, or used on private property.

E-cigarettes are a cylindrical device used to heat nicotine and produce a vapor. They have been on the market for about six years and haven’t undergone thorough testing by the Food and Drug Administration. Public health experts say e-cigarettes are filled with an unknown amount of nicotine and other chemicals.

E-cigarette proponents say e-cigarettes have helped people quit smoking, though the FDA doesn’t classify them as a tobacco cessation tool.

State legislators considered adding e-cigarettes to the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act in 2014, which would ban e-cigarettes in public places similar to other tobacco products.

The council will also discuss its goals, nominations for a flood wall plaque committee, joining various Vision 2020 committees and more. The council’s public meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. inside City Council Chambers.

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