Monroe County Commissioners voted against a proposal Friday that would have added e-cigarette use to the county’s smoking ban. Two commissioners voted no, with the third choosing to abstain.
Monroe County Health Administrator Penny Caudill proposed the measure, saying the recent rise in youth tobacco use is concerning.
Few of the 12 people who gave public testimony on the proposal were in favor of the measure as-written. A few in favor of banning e-cigarette use in public are also in favor of an exemption for businesses that sell vaping supplies, arguing that customers should be able to try the product before purchasing.
“Don’t make us go to the smoking lounge, don’t make us go to the side corner, to the ally. People need to see vapers and see the impact that it can have.”
But opponents also spoke about the use of vaping as a way to quit smoking traditional tobacco products.
“I was a 15 year smoker, two packs a day,” says Evan McMahon, chairman of Hoosier Vapers and an e-liquid manufacturer. “And by and large, people learn about vaping and its success by meeting other vapers. Don’t take that away. Don’t make us go to the smoking lounge, don’t make us go to the side corner, to the alley. People need to see vapers and see the impact that it can have.”
But Nick Torres of the American Lung Association of Indiana says seeing vapers in public is exactly the problem.
“When we talk about youth especially, we’re talking about modeling behaviors,” he says. “So this is really the basis for why we would advocate to include it in a policy like this.”
Of the 12 people who gave testimony, half spoke in favor, including two representatives from the Monroe County Health Department.
Commissioner Amanda Barge requested that the vote be postponed until late April to give her more time to review the research, but without a second to her motion the vote continued.
Commissioner Patrick Stoffers voted no, citing his own experience using vaping to quit smoking. Commissioner Julie Thomas also voted against the proposal, and Barge abstained.