Oak Park moves fast, bans e-cigs indoors

Ordinance treats electronic cigarettes like other tobacco products

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

Oak Park village trustees unanimously approved an ordinance Monday banning the use of electronic cigarettes in indoor public places.

The e-cigarettes, which use a battery powered combustible component to turn liquid nicotine into a smoke-free vapor, have grown in popularity in recent years, and their use indoors has been banned in cities across the country, including Chicago in April.

Under the new ordinance, the e-cigarettes are treated the same as regular cigarettes, requiring so-called "vapers" to step outside before inhaling the nicotine laden mist.

The ordinance, which amends the Clean Indoor Air Act, is effective immediately and includes theaters, restaurants, public transportation facilities and any other place where smoking cigarettes is prohibited.

Margaret Provost-Fyfe, village health director, told village trustees at Monday's meeting that much is unknown about the potential risks of e-cigarettes.

She said they are currently not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but proposed rules from the FDA would restrict e-cigarettes' "oversight, their licensing and all of those issues similar to the way that cigarettes are regulated."

"The big issue with e-cigarettes is that they have not been regulated, so to date there has been no oversight in the manufacturing of these products; essentially the FDA and the public health community don't have a good handle in what's in the e-cigarettes," she said.

Provost-Fyfe submitted a report to the village, noting that quality control in the manufacturing of e-cigarettes is "substandard or non-existent."

"The amount of nicotine and other chemical can vary from cartridge to cartridge," according to the report.

She also said that many of the e-cigarette manufacturers market the products to children, offering various flavors such as vanilla, chocolate, peach schnapps, bubblegum and cola.

"Unfortunately, many individuals who smoke e-cigarettes also are doubling up in terms of smoking, and they're very attractive to youth," she said. "If you look at some of the background data in the (Centers for Disease Control's) recent reports, some youth have been increasingly using these products, and it's felt that this could be an entryway into the use of cigarettes."

Although the village still awaits a report and recommendation from the Board of Public Health, Village President Anan Abu-Taleb and others suggested moving forward with the ban.

Abu-Taleb said he has been in a public place sitting next to someone smoking an e-cigarette and wanted to tell them that he didn't want to be exposed to the vapor.

"I don't know if we can protect people from themselves, but we definitely have the obligation to protect people from each other," Abu-Taleb said. 

He suggested the village consider imposing a tax on e-cigarettes in the future to "act as a deterrent for someone who wants to set up shop in our community."

"And if they decide this is a good market for them, then the tax could help us generate some revenue, which we can use to benefit our community," he said.

The tax could make it harder for stores to open such as Cignot, which set up shop earlier this year at 101 N. Marion St. The opening of the store, which sells e-cigarettes only, prompted concern from residents due in part to its highly visible location near the Harlem Green Line El stop.

Email: tim@oakpark.com

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Silvia D.  

Posted: May 27th, 2014 4:02 PM

Having grown up at a time when smoking indoors was the norm, there is no question that smoking indoors is just smelly and gross. It really is. I once had an office that was previously occupied by a smoker (just as after Chicago banned it in office buildings). The smell never went away, even after the carpet and ceiling tiles were replaced. Go smoke outside if you want. That's clearly where the party is at. No insular loners there.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 23rd, 2014 11:00 AM

Let's knock off the second hand smoke and second hand chemicals excuses and face the truth that the real issue is people doing things that are offensive to their personal lifestyle. Fact is; those who want everyone to adopt their "ways" live an isolated life and are very boring.


Posted: May 23rd, 2014 8:56 AM

Coolidge, c'mon it was only an abstract you could have read the entire thing, "Using an e-cigarette in indoor environments may involuntarily expose nonusers to nicotine", non-smokers do not want exposed to secondhand chemicals

C.M. Coolidge  

Posted: May 22nd, 2014 6:00 PM

OP Transplant, I'll see your study and raise you another! (http://ntr.oxfordjournals.org/content/16/6/655.abstract) To cut to the chase you are talking about an exposure of 0.82 to 6.23 micrograms/m3 from e-cigs in tests whereas the current OSHA&MSHA standards are 500 micrograms/m3. Add that to e-cigs vapor having a half life of 11 seconds vs the 19 minute half life of cigarette smoke. risk is negligible at best. (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0761842513000855)

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: May 22nd, 2014 4:56 PM

@OP Transplant, At home? Nah, they'll vape outside as they walk down the street, or stand 15.1 feet from an entrance door to an enclosed location like a bank, restaurant, library. Lke their smoker counterparts do now.

OP Transplant  

Posted: May 22nd, 2014 2:53 PM

For a better picture of the toxic effects of nicotine. http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/ershdb/emergencyresponsecard_29750028.html

OP Transplant  

Posted: May 22nd, 2014 2:48 PM

"...since there is no evidence that supports that the vapor of e-cigs has the same, or even similar harmful effects as second-hand smoke." Everything I read says that there has been no real research into the effects, so I might just as easily argue that there is no evidence that the vapor emitted by e-cigs is safe. Sitting in a public place using a device that emits a vaporized toxin is, at best, discourteous. Is it too much to ask that you do it at home?

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: May 22nd, 2014 2:18 PM

@Mortal1, To clarify, the alcohol/caffeine/sugar analogy was to illustrate our bias against certain vices. And that bias is what has driven this decision, not "public health" since there is no evidence that supports that the vapor of e-cigs has the same, or even similar harmful effects as second-hand smoke. It was a weak argument, hence why it was so easy to see through it to the real issue.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: May 22nd, 2014 1:10 PM

@Mortal1, I'm not getting mad at all. I just like to expose us for the hypocrites we really are. :-)


Posted: May 22nd, 2014 12:45 PM

LOL @ how mad Bridgett is getting, so because we are exposed to some harmful stuff all day we shouldnt take steps to avoid other harmful things? No one forces you to drink or eat sugar or passes them off to you second hand. However non smokers cannot avoid the filth that smokers spew into the air. Once people start inhaling beer/sugar clouds then your analogy will make sense.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: May 22nd, 2014 12:42 PM

There's a bunch of crap we are exposed to everyday that isn't banned. Do some research on the popular Febreze and see if you want your kids inhaling any of its 87 ingredients. We as a society make drinking fun and celebratory, while we make inhaling disgusting and seedy. And we make jokes of our "need" for caffeine and sugar. We even have a business just a few doors down from the e-cig store, with a name French-izing this need, this "fix."

Brad Pitt from Hollywood  

Posted: May 22nd, 2014 12:01 PM

Can we ban ugly people as well?


Posted: May 22nd, 2014 8:47 AM

Way to take a stand on something really important. Better that, I suppose, than the Village Board wasting more of our money on some inane pet project.

The Brad from OP  

Posted: May 21st, 2014 10:34 PM

Ecigs look about as cool as fanny packs and Zubaz pants. This ban is for the best.

Ferrara Pan from Forest Park  

Posted: May 21st, 2014 3:47 PM

Will the smoking of candy cigarettes still be allowed indoors?

OP Transplant  

Posted: May 21st, 2014 3:43 PM

The health director points out that there is not enough data to determine the health risks of e-cigs. Should their use be permitted in public in the hopes that they're safe? Do non-users have the right to not want to be exposed to nicotine-infused vapor? I'd rather e-cigs are proven to be safe before my kids are exposed to the vapor.

OP Res 253 from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 21st, 2014 3:31 PM

@Foomer, oh by all means, let us limit individual freedoms and choices, not on sound medical or social science, but on the basis of the inconvenience people who serve the public may experience.


Posted: May 21st, 2014 3:08 PM

Something to keep in mind, bars/restaurants/clubs do not like these fake cigs, they look real and frequently cause an employee to tell someone that they cant smoke in here when they are just vaping, this eliminates that headache

Marty Bracco from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 21st, 2014 3:03 PM

Bridget, my understanding is that this ban would not extend to the Park District, as it is a separate taxing body with its own rules of conduct, which include a smoking ban in parks and facilities. The PD board would have to enact a separate ban on e-cigs.

OP Res 253 from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 21st, 2014 2:46 PM

Does this mean the duly permitted and rent paying new e-cig business will not be able to conduct business on their premises now? Or is there an exemption some tobacconist?

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: May 21st, 2014 2:37 PM

@Anon, when I listened to the discussion at the meeting, it appeared like this had little to do with the health of innocent bystanders, like second-hand smoke. There was no solid evidence given by the Public Health person that would support such a health risk. The conversation mentioned more the personal health risks. Is chewing tobacco also banned inside? Or can someone bring in a spittin' cup in to, say, a restaurant? I guess some vices are more socially acceptable than others.


Posted: May 21st, 2014 2:10 PM

correction. 8-6-11 bans the sale of single little cigars... 8-6-1 changes the definition of tobacco product to include e-cigarettes.

Anon not Anan from Oak Park  

Posted: May 21st, 2014 2:07 PM

the ordinance can be found on the city website under posted agendas. linked : http://oak-park.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=&event_id=120&meta_id=17099 look for yourself at section 8-6-11. It won't effect me as a non-smoker, but it isn't the role of government to "protect people from themselves" and without evidence of harm from e-cig vapors... local government is again allowing personal bias to run roughshod over individual liberty. exactly what one would expect from this 'utopia'

Brian Slowiak from Westchester  

Posted: May 21st, 2014 1:52 PM

Coffee gives off a vapor. So does perfume.

Aspiring Scientist from Oak Park  

Posted: May 21st, 2014 1:23 PM

Does this ban apply to Nicotrol inhalers (prescription smoking cessation aids) as well? They are essentially the same thing.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: May 21st, 2014 1:02 PM

Ah, okay, so the vapor is what could be a potential health hazard to a bystander. What about the Park District? Tobacco products are not allowed in the parks, so would that mean no e-cigarettes as well? Or is that a completely different jurisdiction/law/ordinance than this one amended on Monday?


Posted: May 21st, 2014 12:47 PM

Bridgett, it is an ammendment to the Clean Air Act " The ordinance, which amends the Clean Indoor Air Act"

to Bridgett  

Posted: May 21st, 2014 12:40 PM

They do emit a vapor

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: May 21st, 2014 12:07 PM

I am confused by this. If e-cigarettes are smokeless, then how can you ban them, under the guise of the Clean Indoor Air Act?

Empty Storefront from Oak Park  

Posted: May 21st, 2014 10:05 AM

Abu-Taleb continues his crusade to ensure that all new businesses think twice about moving into Oak Park (and then settle in Forest Park or Berwyn).


Posted: May 21st, 2014 9:00 AM

Good to hear, no need to have these inside

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