County may restrict vaping

In Maryland's Prince George's County, a bill to ban electronic cigarette use in the majority of public spaces and businesses moved even closer to becoming a law after lawmakers voted it out of committee in early October.

According to The Washington Post, council member Todd Turner sponsored the bill that would effectively regulate not only the sale of electronic cigarette devices, but restrict vaping in most public spaces, including restaurants, bars, and public and senior citizens housing.

If the bill passes later this year, Prince George's County will effectively become the fourth jurisdiction in Maryland to follow through with such a ban, following Baltimore City, Howard, and Montgomery counties.

Electronic cigarettes are now part of a billion dollar industry. Between 2008 and 2012 alone, sales increased from 50,000 to 3.5 million in the United States.

As an alternative to traditional cigarettes, around one in five American adults who smoke have opted for e-cigarettes instead.

Yet despite the fact that e-cigarettes don't pose the same health risk as traditional cigarettes, research on their overall safety is still not conclusive.

"Let's not wait if something happens in the future but let's be proactive," Turner said at the recent hearing. "The desire of the bill was, in essence, to put e-cigarettes in the same category of restriction as other tobacco products."

But an important amendment was introduced to the bill that would exempt businesses with state video lottery licenses. This means that vaping would be allowed at casinos such as the MGM National Harbor casino, opening in the summer of 2016.

Similar exceptions were made for the Horseshoe Casino. Additionally, some bars and restaurants were given the option to opt out of the 2014 ban.

While council member Turner hopes the legislation will pass without amendments, he plans to vote for the bill regardless when the whole Council hears it in the near future.


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