Tempe will be the first city in Arizona to ban e-cigarette use in public areas.
The Tempe City Council voted 5-1 Thursday to approve the ordinance, which mirrors regulation of tobacco cigarettes.
E-cigarette users will no longer be able to light up in restaurants, bars or other enclosed public places.The ban does not restrict use at e-cigarette retail locations or the sale of e-cigarette products.
Nationally, more cities are taking up the issue of e-cigarette regulation, officials with the League of Arizona Cities and Towns said Friday.
The move comes as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering adding e-cigarettes to its federally regulated tobacco products, which include rolled cigarettes as well as smokeless tobaccos.
The Valley’s e-cigarette industry argued against the ban, saying people use e-cigarettes as a healthier alternative to tobacco. They say the cities should not ban public use when there is no conclusive scientific evidence that e-cigarettes are harmful.
About 75 opponents of the ban, many Valley e-cigarette business owners, argued that the Tempe City Council should have allowed individuals the leeway to decide whether they want to regulate their private business.
“If you own a business or a restaurant and you don’t like it (e-cigarette use), then ban it,” said Matt Berger, who owns Butt Out, an e-cigarette business with Tempe and other Valley locations. “It shouldn’t be up to the right of this council.”
Proponents of the ban said e-cigarette companies, a multibillion-dollar industry, will do just as tobacco companies did for decades: market to kids, fight regulation and risk Americans’ long-term health.
“The vapors from e-cigarettes contain known toxins,” said Nicole Olmstead of the American Heart Association in Arizona. “However, they have not been subjected to thorough independent testing, so we can’t be sure exactly what we’re inhaling.”
The ordinance takes effect in 30 days.