Reporting from Wichita, Kansas
At a special county commission meeting Monday night in Derby, commissioners gave the approval for an official policy on vaping.
“I trust our staff has developed a very moderate policy. We are allowing managers to supervise their own areas,” says Sedgwick County Commissioner, Jim Howell. “They can manage times and places if they want to.”
Managers can now outlaw vaping in their areas if they see fit. But, if they do, employees can request a special area for vaping inside county buildings. Think of it as a smoking area, without lighting up.
About five people signed in to talk to commissioners about vaping in county buildings. Many cited health concerns and quoted statistics from anti-vaping groups about the unknowns that vaping presents without a lot of scientific studies on long-term use of e-cigarettes.
Tim Norton is one county commissioner who voted no to the official vaping policy in county buildings.
“Well, for me, it’s about having a consistent policy for every facility,” said Norton. “If it were up to me, it would be no smoking, no vaping in any county facility. It’s going to be very confusing to our folks if you have something different in every building.”
Howell says he believes vaping is a way for people to quit smoking. And, he says, to increase productivity by workers no longer taking smoke breaks.
“Cigarette tobacco smoking is clearly dangerous for the user,” says Howell. “Studies that I’ve looked at show cigarettes are carcinogenic and vaping just is not. This is a positive choice.”
Howell points out that vaping has never been banned in public buildings based on the 2010 Clean Air Act in Kansas. Howell says that act only applies to tobacco.