BY ALEXANDER WILLIS
The Spring Hill Board of Mayor and Alderman discussed Monday night a proposal that would ban all vaping, or electronic cigarette smoking, in public parks in the city.
Currently, smoking cigarettes is banned in all public parks and most businesses state-wide, however, with the rise in popularity of vaping, discussions continue into its public health risks.
In 2007, then-Gov. Phil Bredesen signed into law the Tennessee Non-Smoker Protection Act, which effectively banned smoking cigarettes in most public places across the state. Exceptions to the law exist, such as in venues that restrict access to those under 21, but for the most part, it curbed smoking in public substantially.
As vaping has exploded in popularity in recent years, especially among young teens, lawmakers across the state are continuing to assess its possible health risks to the public.
Spring Hill ordinance 19-05, which was first reviewed in public by Spring Hill city leaders Monday night during a work session, would amend the current ban on smoking in public parks to include vaping as well. While the board noted differing opinions on the amendment, the draft reads that “staff is in favor of the amendment.”
“Personally, I think vaping is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen,” Vice Mayor Bruce Hull said. “However, unless it’s a health hazard to others like cigarette smoking can be, or a sanitation issue like cigarettes also can be, I don’t see a reason to ban it from public parks. It’s not affecting anybody else like cigarettes do.”
Alderman Vincent Fuqua said that vaping “isn’t all bad,” and that vaping had actually helped him stop smoking cigarettes.
Alderman Susan Zemek didn’t say whether she would support the amendment or not, but did note that vaping does indeed produce its own form of second-hand smoke. Zemek was not incorrect either – according to the American Nonsmokers Rights Foundation, vaping produces second-hand aerosol, which contains “nicotine, ultrafine particles and low levels of toxins that are known to cause cancer.”
As Monday night’s meeting was just a work session, the amendment won’t be voted on until the board of mayor and aldermen’s next voting meeting on Monday, February 18 at City Hall, 199 Town Center Parkway.