Tahlequah City Leaders Discuss Banning E-Cigarettes In Public Spaces

Monday, November 4th 2013, 10:54 pm
By: News On 6

A Green Country community is looking at snuffing out e-cigarettes. That has store owners worried they'll be put out of business.

Tahlequah city leaders met Monday night to discuss a proposed ordinance that would add e-cigs to the ban list of things you can't smoke inside their city owned buildings or parks.

Marvin Stepp owns Captain Vapor in Tahlequah. He learned last week the city council was looking into banning the use of electronic cigarettes in places like the mayor's office and local parks.

Stepp said the proposal is too broad and could hurt his business.

"If they pass this the way it is, they will eventually be able to run us out of business here, but it will keep everyone of our customers from being able to use this product instead of smoking cigarettes," Stepp said.

Tahlequah Mayor Jason Nichols says the language Stepp is worried about simply isn't there.

"We don't even have the legal authority to do anything like that," Nichols said. "I would be willing to alter the language in anyway that would make those people comfortable that we're not trying to institute a full ban."

The group behind the proposed ban says it's all about having clean air in public places.

"That just goes along with the rest of our attitude toward health and trying to make our community healthier," said Carol Choate, of Communities of Excellence Tobacco Control.

The owners of Captain Vapor hope future discussions will clarify the proposed ban.

"Don't legislate me out of business when all I'm doing is trying to help my customers and help the public," Stepp said.

The earliest the ordinance could pass would be mid-December.

The mayor said he was approached by an anti-smoking group and says there is some potential grant money tied to the passing of the ordinance.