Monett adds e-cigs to smoking restrictions
School district bans student use, may consider smoke ban
One month after passing a smoking ban in city buildings and North Park, except in designated areas, the Monett City Council returned to the issue in July.
The latest revisions also ban the use of electronic cigarettes, as well as traditional tobacco products.
No public objections surfaced at the July 21 Monett City Council meeting. Russ Balmas, park superintendent, said people visiting North Park ball fields have cooperated with the restrictions, generally going to the parking lots to smoke.
According Dennis Pyle, Monett city administrator, concern over e-cigarettes came to the attention of the city council from Jay Jastal, school resource officer, in a letter.
"After researching e-cigarettes I was not surprised to find many people are using them to smoke marijuana and that manufacturers of e-cigarettes are marketing them for that purpose," Jastal stated, "As with most legislation, we are usually reactive versus proactive. The schools are in the process of adding policy pertaining to the use of e-cigarettes at school and at school functions."
During their meeting on July 17, the Monett School Board approved policy updates recommended by the Missouri School Boards Association, including a policy on e-cigarettes developed by the Springfield School District.
During that meeting, Superintendent Brad Hanson mentioned to the school board that some time in the coming year, the district's wellness committee will likely recommend all school facilities become smoke-free. This would include parking lots and other outdoor school property.
"The biggest issue will be ball games," Hanson said.
He asked the board to consider the ramifications of such a move in advance of any formal policy proposal.
"I looked at our current ordinances pertaining to smoking at North Park and in public buildings such as the Casino, and found they do not address the use of e-cigarettes or like devices," Jastal said. "This may become a issue for public debate and I can foresee a citizen arguing that they are allowed to use the devices in areas not prohibited by ordinance."
Battery-powered e-cigarettes were invited in China nearly 15 years ago as a smoking cessation aid. The devices deliver nicotine through a vapor. Vaporizers in the devices also have the capability of delivering a variety of flavors. According to a study by the University Of California San Francisco's Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, "Users could also be inhaling and exhaling low levels of chemicals such as formaldehyde, propylene glycol and acetaldehyde, and this secondhand vapor could be a potentially toxic source of indoor air pollution. We do know that fine particulate matter from cigarettes and from air pollution are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular and respiratory disease. Just because particulate matter from e-cigarettes isn't well studied, doesn't mean its safe."
The Food and Drug Administration, citing a German study, concluded, "Second-hand exposure to e-cigarette emission which may lead to adverse health effects cannot be excluded."
The FDA issued a proposed rule in April that would extend the agency's tobacco authority to cover additional products that meet the legal definition of a tobacco product, such as e-cigarettes. The FDA is expected to make an announcement in October regarding its authority to regulate e-cigarettes as tobacco products, but to date has not taken any official action on electronic cigarettes.
On July 14, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon vetoed Senate Bill 841, which would have exempted e-cigarettes from existing laws and taxes on traditional tobacco cigarettes.
"This bill appears to be nothing more than a thinly disguised and cynical attempt to exempt e-cigarettes from taxes and regulations protecting public health," Nixon said. "The FDA is already moving forward to ban the sale of these products to minors. Until more is known about the health effects of these products, letting tobacco companies off the hook with special loopholes would pose a real threat to Missourians' health now and in the future."