Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

November 8, 2013

‘Vapers’: Proposed ordinance misguided

Second in a series on city council’s proposed ban on electronic smoking devices

TAHLEQUAH — As the Tahlequah City Council considers the possibility of banning electronic smoking devices, some citizens are vocally opposing the restriction of their use.

The overwhelming majority of “vapers” are ex-smokers, or have reduced their tobacco consumption through ESD use.

“I have been smoking since I was 12 and I am now 43,” said Diana Wakefield, a customer at Captain Vapor on Park Hill Road. “I was going through 2-1/2 cartons of cigarettes a month. I now smoke three packs a month. The rest of the time, I use vapor. My senses of smell and taste have recovered and I feel so much better.”

After Ordinance No. 1213-2013, intended to define electronic smoking devices and ban their used on city property, was read at Monday’s city council meeting, some said they believe the language would allow the city too much latitude.

Included among the “purpose definitions” in the ordinance were entries for “restaurant” and “standalone bar, standalone tavern, and cigar bar.” The ordinance will undergo revisions to its language before being read a second time at the special city council meeting Monday, Nov. 18.

“I believe the city was looking for a way to extend the ban beyond city property,” said Marvin Stepp, a proprietor for Captain Vapor. “This could have been a precedent.”

Captain Vapor is exclusively an ESD shop; it sells no tobacco. Stepp said there are monetary motivations for reducing the use of electronic smoking devices.

“This gets into the pockets of tobacco companies, pharmaceutical companies and anti-smoking groups,” Stepp said. “Tobacco companies are looking for legal precedents to ban the use of vapor devices because they have cut into their business by about 20 percent. That figure is expected to double in a short time.”

Stepp believes the products offered by Captain Vapor help perform a public service.

“We have sold 3,000 anti-smoking kits since we opened April 1,” he said. “That’s 3,000 people in the area who have quit using tobacco, or are using much less.”

Tobacco stores would    have to walk a fine line

Kaitlin Davis and Paul Van Winkle are employees of Evolution Fine Cigars, where the increasing popularity of e-smoking is evident. Though a tobacco store, much of Evolution’s shelf space displays ESD equipment and liquids.

“I have a problem with the additives being called a tobacco product,” said Davis, an ESD user.

“Yes, there is nicotine, but it is not from tobacco. And if this is to be banned due to nicotine, then what about nicotine patches or gum?”

Though classifying e-cigarettes as tobacco products could presage a long legal battle, the FDA may give a municipality wiggle-room on distinctions between ESDs and anti-smoking patches and gum. The FDA regulates patches and gums as smoking cessation products. ESDs are not regulated by the FDA and not acknowledged as a smoking cessation method.

“I would like to see the city educate itself a little more about these products,” Van Winkle said

 “We have a lot of smokers switching to vapor, and I don’t think the vapors are dangerous to others. I am a non-smoker, and I would much rather stand next to someone with a vapor device than with a cigarette.”

Nate King, Tahlequah chief of police, said e-smoking is currently legal in the city’s parks and public areas. Should the situation change, he speculated that enforcement would follow the tobacco model.

“I don’t know that we’ve issued any citations for smoking on city property,” King said. “But the people we’ve seen smoking in the park, we’ve been doing more of an educational approach, because it is not a well-known ordinance. We inform people it isn’t legal to smoke in the park and let them know they have to put it out. We would probably approach e-cigarettes the same way.”

The revised ordinance will be read and discussed at the next special meeting of the Tahlequah City Council on Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall, 111 S. Cherokee Ave. The council will have the option of voting on the ordinance.

Josh Newton contributed to this story.


Go to Tahlequah Daily Press’ Facbook page at www.facebook.com/tdpress to see the Nov. 2 Saturday Forum. Nearly 150 comments were entered on the EDS ordinance issue.


Text Only
Local News
  • ts-Tax-free-main.jpg Shopper's delight

    Tax-free weekend coming up Aug. 1-3, just in time for back-to-school savings

    Attention, shoppers: Oklahoma’s Tax-Free Weekend is coming up, beginning at 12:01 a.m., Friday, Aug. 1.

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • ballard-amanda.jpg Woman pleads no contest to molestation

    A Tahlequah woman accused of having more than 20 sexual encounters with a 13-year-old boy has pleaded no contest in exchange for a 15-year prison sentence, though 10 years have been suspended.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • svw-arch-society.jpg Archaeologist: Spiro Mounds may have been ancient music haven

    People gathered from across the country at the “center of the universe,” bringing with them different styles of music and instruments, each thought to have its own power and importance.
    This could be the description of a modern music festival, but to Jim Rees, it is a picture of the Spiro Mounds 1,000 years before Columbus came to the Americas.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Two headed for trial for conspiracy to kill judge and others

    Two of the four people accused of conspiring to kill a Cherokee County judge and several other targets were bound over for trial Friday following a preliminary hearing in Tahlequah.

    July 28, 2014

  • Woman accused in embezzlement sought for arrest

    Court officials have issued a bench warrant for a woman who previously pleaded to embezzling more than $40,000 while she worked for Tahlequah attorney Park Medearis.

    July 28, 2014

  • CN, UKB battle over trust land application

    Two Tahlequah-based tribes presented oral arguments Friday in a protracted fight over a land-in-trust application.

    Over the course of five hours, attorneys for the Cherokee Nation, United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, Cherokee Nation Entertainment and the Department of the Interior made their cases before Northern District Judge Gregory Frizzell in a hearing that was originally scheduled for February.


    July 25, 2014

  • ts-NSU-Main-1-a.jpg No NSU pool, for now

    NSU experiencing delays in fitness center construction

    Earlier this month, Northeastern State University announced it is experiencing delays in the renovation of its fitness center and pool.
    The facility was officially shuttered Sept. 17, 2012, and at the time, the projected completion date for renovation was this fall.

    July 25, 2014 3 Photos

  • jn-Suspect-1.jpg Officials: Images of suspects may help nab church burglars

    Cherokee County investigators hope surveillance footage captured around the Crescent Valley Baptist Church in Woodall helps lead to the suspects accused of breaking into the complex and setting fire to one building this week.
    According to Undersheriff Jason Chennault, cameras captured footage of two suspects on bicycles early Tuesday morning, July 22.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • svw-movie-night.jpg Local library hosts family movie night

    Nova Foreman and her two daughters were about to leave the Tahlequah Public Library Thursday, when they saw the Family Movie Night flyer.
    The three decided to stay and enjoy a movie they had not yet seen at the free, theater-like event.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • svw-Keys.jpg Grant to fund stepped-up Keys PE program

    Kair Ridenhour’s new office is filled with pedometers.
    Ridenhour officially started his new position as assistant elementary principal at Keys Public Schools on July 1.
    But his other role at the school – that of physical education project coordinator – prompted the influx of pedometers.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo


Do you believe school administrators and college presidents in Oklahoma are paid too much?

Strongly agree.
Somewhat agree.
Somewhat disagree.
Strongly disagree.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow