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Allegheny Co. Council Approves E-Cigarette Ban

PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) --- Allegheny County Council approved legislation that will greatly restrict where people can use electronic cigarettes.

E-cigarettes and other handheld vaporizers will no longer be permitted in indoor public places, work places and food establishments. That includes schools, government buildings and sporting venues.

County council on Tuesday voted 8-5 to adopt the ban. It will take effect when County Executive Rich Fitzgerald signs it.

"I am proud that Allegheny County continues to focus on protecting our public health and ensuring that our community is one where quality of life is important," Fitzgerald said in a statement following Wednesday night's vote. "These measures, recommended by the Allegheny County Health Department and passed by the Board of Health, have made a statement that we value our public's health. I thank Dr. Hacker and the Board of Health for its work on this progressive legislation. It is initiatives like this that attract companies and talent to this region."

Prior to Wednesday night's vote, nearly two dozen people voiced their arguments for or against the legislation.

"This proposed ordinance turns more than 30,000 Allegheny County vapers into criminals for vaping in their own workplace," said Bill Godshall, founder and executive director of Smoke Free Pennsylvania.

Opponents say vaping is an effective way to quit smoking, but supporters say vaping could be as dangerous as breathing smoke from cigarettes.

"These chemicals do get into bystanders," said Dr. Brian Primack, a professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. "This is something that we know from research. They're detectable in the blood of people. So, second-hand smoke is real with regard to these implements."

Allegheny County will become the second county in Pennsylvania to ban vaping in public places where cigarette smoking is already prohibited. Philadelphia banned vaping in most indoor places in 2014.

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