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Commission may add vapor products to tobacco restrictions

The policy banning tobacco use and smoking in buildings owned and leased by Washington County may soon include electronic cigarettes.
At the request of Mayor Dan Eldridge, members of the General Health and Welfare Committee last week reviewed a resolution prohibiting vapor products, including but not limited to electronic cigarettes, from all county buildings.
“We have received complaints from offices and patrons,” Eldridge said during the July 8 meeting.
In addition, he spoke with Health Department Director Tim Carson, who said the state has confirmed e-cigarettes are carcinogenic.
“Based on what Tim Carson told me, we don’t need to allow it,” Eldridge said.
According to the resolution, the U.S. Surgeon General reports that second-hand smoke is toxic, poisonous and contains numerous carcinogens; and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that tobacco use leads to disease and disability, and is the number one cause of preventable death in the United States.
In addition, the resolution indicates the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has found that e-cigarettes may contain carcinogens and other toxic chemicals, and warns of the potential health risks of using e-cigarettes.
Counties have the authority to regulate the use of tobacco products in buildings they own or lease, and to impose civil penalties for violations of the policy under Tennessee Code Annotated 39-17-1551 and TCA 5-1-121.
Eldridge has therefore determined that the health and safety of citizens of Washington County and others who may utilize the buildings require that the buildings be smoke-free, tobacco-free, and free of vapors emitted by electronic cigarettes.
The resolution states smoking, and use of tobacco and vapor products by county employees and members of the public are allowed in outside designated areas of each building owned and leased by the county, but there shall be no smoking or use of tobacco and vapor products allowed within 50 feet of any building entrance.
Violations of the tobacco-free, smoke-free and vapor-free environments shall be punishable by a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed $50.
Commissioner Pat Wolfe made a motion to include e-cigarettes in the county tobacco policy.
The motion was seconded by Commissioner Mitch Meredith and passed with unanimous approval.
The resolution will be considered by the full commission during its July 28 meeting.