MUSKOGEE, Okla. - The City of Muskogee will be voting on whether to ban e-cigarettes from its property next week.
The ordinance would prohibit e-cigarette use from all city property in town, including buildings, and public parks. It would modify an existing ordinance that bans smoking tobacco on the properties as well.
Residents like Carol Osmond are worried about what an e-cig ban on city property could mean for hundreds of vapers.
“This is a new thing, it's a new idea so they want to get on the bandwagon. I get it,” she said. “We should be able to choose for ourselves if we want the e-cig or not.”
Local businesses like 918 Vapes agree and says the ban could even restrict actual smokers.
“I don't think banning e-cigs is going to be healthier for the community, because it helps some people quit,” said 918 Vapes employee Heather Parris. “It almost feels like they're trying to take away a piece of freedom from you.”
City Councilman Wayne Johnson agrees and that's why he says he originally opposed the measure proposed by the Muskogee Health and Wellness Initiative.
But he says while the vaper is pleasant to some, it's a nuisance for others.
“It's all about our quality of life,” Johnson said. “We want to make sure that in public places, someone's rights aren't being violated over someone else's rights.”
"It's important to move forward with the nuisance ordinance to limit impact in our community on public city property. I also understand the benefits of e-cigarettes of helping those transition to not smoking but it can happen in an area so it does not impact others."
But vapers around town say the small devices could be life-changing and should be welcome wherever residents go.
“Everybody's so offended by everything nowadays,” said Osmond. “I think there's better things to address in Muskogee than this stuff.”
The measure was approved by the City's Public Works Committee Tuesday night.
City councilors will vote on the decision at its city council meeting Monday. The measure amends the city's current ordinance that bans cigarette smoking in public places, and could go into law as soon as February. Public streets and sidewalks will be exempt from the ordinance, if passed.
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