Tahlequah city council tables proposed e-cigarette ban

TAHLEQUAH - The city council will not to vote on a proposed ordinance that would ban electronic cigarettes from city-owned property.

The Cherokee County Communities of Excellence Tobacco Control Program, a group who works to reduce smoking, pulled the plan they drafted from the council's Monday night agenda.

The group said the fight to ban e-cigarettes on city property will continue at a later date.

The group's director, Carol Choate, said one of the major reasons they pulled the proposal is because there is a lot of misinformation about the plan on social media.

Choate said the plan would essentially put e-cigarettes into the same category as tobacco, which is already banned on city property.

"What the ordinance is all about is public health," said Choates. "We're kind of with e-cigarettes like we were 50 years ago with cigarettes. We had no idea what cigarettes could do to us, but we know now that they cause cancer."

Opponents said the proposed ban goes too far.

"It wasn't written very well. It was vague enough, it could be interpreted any way you want it to," said Marvin Stepps.

Stepps owns Captain Vapor, an e-cigarette store in Tahlequah. Stepps said e-cigarettes are safe and have helped many people quit smoking cigarettes.

He worries that the proposed ordinance, if passed, would put him out of business.

"Because they not only said for public places, but they also included private places," said Stepp. "Don't go up and down the street telling business people that they can't allow their customers to do it."

Choate maintains it is not her group's intention to ban e-cigarettes from the entire city. They just want them banned on city property, she said.

Choate said her group will reintroduce the measure after meeting with city officials.

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