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.

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE

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.

srowley@tahlequahdailypress.com

1
Text Only
Local News
  • ths-jazz-2.jpg THS jazz band gets up early to hone performance skills

    It means getting up an hour earlier, and it doesn’t count as a class, but the jazz band at Tahlequah High School enjoys the dedication of a group of enthusiastic students.
    The THS Jazz Band practices every day at 7 a.m., an hour before the start of classes. It numbers 17, and is led by Director Orien Landis.
    “They have to do this before school and they get no class credit, but we have a full band,” Landis said. “They are really excited about this.”

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Easter-basket-kid.jpg Easter traditions date back centuries

    Some Christians may lament a partial shift of focus, but a Christian holy day - perhaps the most holy of all – is this Sunday, and it will be marked with celebrations all around the world.
    The Christian holiday of Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. For centuries, the observant have fasted, reflected or done penance in the weeks leading to the holiday. But today, many also associate the holiday with the Easter bunny, candy, and kites. In 2013, Americans spent $2.1 billion on Easter candy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Some oppose minimum wage hike; others decry strong-arming by state

    President Barack Obama and the U.S. Senate recently announced a push to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour, to $10.10. On the heels of the announcement, an initiative petition was introduced in Oklahoma City to raise the minimum wage to the suggested $10.10. If it gained 80,000 signatures, it would be put to a vote of the people.
    This legislative session, a bill passed prohibiting municipalities from setting a minimum was or vacation and sick-day requirements. Gov. Mary Fallin signed the bill into law earlier this week.

    April 18, 2014

  • Phone scam takes $500 from couple

    Authorities are warning Cherokee County residents to watch for a costly phone scam that recently targeted a local couple and ended in their loss of $500.
    According to sheriff’s deputies, a couple contacted authorities after losing $500 to the scam. The couple received a phone call from a man who identified himself only as “Mr. Green.” He told the couple they had won $1.5 million through Publisher’s Clearing House, but to collect the money, the couple would have to purchase a $500 money card to cover various fees.

    April 18, 2014

  • Missing local teen found dead

    The body of a missing 17-year-old boy was found in southern Cherokee County on Thursday, sheriff’s investigators said.
    Brikk Pritchett was reported missing earlier this month after disappearing on March 30, a day before his 17th birthday.

    April 18, 2014

  • ts honor flight 1.tif Flight of honor

    World War II veteran Charles Harra flew missions for the Army Air Corps, and if you ask him which flight was his most memorable, he’ll say it was his 35th mission.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Man charged after leading authorities on wild chase

    Prosecutors have formally charged a man who allegedly led authorities on a wild high-speed pursuit across Cherokee County in late March.

    April 17, 2014

  • Sex offender bonds out after failing to register

    A Cherokee County man is out on bond after being arrested last week for failing to register as a sex offender.

    April 17, 2014

  • jn radiator shop.jpg ‘Greenbelt’ progressing

    Crews this week began to demolish an abandoned radiator shop at the corner of South Street and Guinn Avenue.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • ts slut walk.tif SlutWalk shines spotlight on crime

    “Two, four, six, eight, stop the violence, stop the rape; slut, slut, ho, ho, yes means yes and no means no!”
    This was the battle cry across the campus of Northeastern State University, as the student branch of the American Association of University Women held its third annual SlutWalk Wednesday.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
Undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case
Stocks