County ban may be placed on e-cigarettes for indoor areas of bars, restaurants

As advised by the Orange County Board of Health, the county will likely place a ban on e-cigarettes in enclosed areas of restaurants and bars.

Tobacco Prevention and Control Program Coordinator Coby Austin said the board of ealth is concerned with the safety of Orange County residents as the use of e-cigarettes is beginning to increase.

Austin said current research shows the cons for using e-cigarettes in restaurants and bars outweigh the pros.

PUBLIC COMMENT

The board of health is seeking public comment on this proposal until Sunday. There will be a public hearing on the topic Wednesday at the Orange County Health Department in Hillsborough. Learn more here.

"The board of health is considering a rule that would prohibit the use of e-cigarettes in restaurants and bars because of the emerging research on the potential health effects and the potential for secondhand exposure," Austin said.

Austin said some of the chemicals in e-cigarettes could cause health risks.

“It may irritate the lungs, there's a possibility that it may affect immunity or some toxicology research shows that it may be toxic at the cellular level and that some chemicals in the aerosol may cause disease," he said.

Orange County Commissioner Penny Rich said so far, complaints of the e-cigarette ban have been limited and the board's central focus is to educate the public. 

"What you're really trying to do is educate people on the unhealthy habit and the consequences that come along with it," Rich said. "It's not a free, easy and safe recreation."

UNC sophomore Annie DeHart is opposed to the new ban, and said she thinks e-cigarettes are typically viewed as a safer alternative to cigarettes.

"I don’t think that there should be a ban on e-cigarettes. I don't think the ban is fair," DeHart said. "I do have friends that use e-cigarettes, and from my experience they are under the impression that they are safer than cigarettes."

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