Tahlequah City Council to define electronic smoking devices, consider ban at all city-owned property

The city of Tahlequah met Monday night to begin discussions on e-cigarettes on city property.

And dozens poured into the Tahlequah city council chambers to weigh in on the talks.  

Those opposed and for an agenda item to discuss an ordinance on electronic smoking devices spoke up.

Should it pass, the ordinance would prohibit the use of e-cigarettes from all city-owned property, which includes city hall, fire and police stations and city parks.
Only a few weeks ago, the city of Ada passed a similar ordinance.

For Tahlequah resident Tom Barnard the meeting held a personal significance. After smoking for 40 years, today marks six months since the last time he and his son have smoked a cigarette, through the aid of an electronic smoking device.

"I went and tried to get my son to quit smoking. I accidentally quit, trying to help my son. So I feel very strongly about it," Barnard said.

Members of the Cherokee County Communities of Excellence Tobacco Control Program smoke on the matter and explained the state department of health has tied e-cigarettes to tobacco products.

"It's all about clean air. It's not about shutting down e-cigarettes shops. We're not against that at all," Val Dobbins said.

But the idea leaves many residents and business owners torn.

"Its asinine for the city to address this issue, but yet they won't address the spice and K2 issue," said Cindy Farmer, director of Cherokee County Juvenile Drug Court

Ali Nolan, a senior at Keys High School, felt differently.  

"The fact is the can be abused by people," Nolan said. I think by using them in public places is promoting the use of them to middle school and high school students."

By law, Tahlequah city council must meet at least twice before voting on the proposed ordinance. While no action was taken this evening, city officials hope to vote on the ordinance at the next November meeting.

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