Health
1:29 pm
Fri June 6, 2014

How Central Texas Cities Regulate (or Don't Regulate) E-Cigarettes

Update: The City of Kyle has banned the possession of e-cigarettes by minors.

The Kyle City Council voted unanimously to pass the ordinance – making it illegal for minors to use e-cigarettes and for businesses or individuals to sell or distribute them to anyone under 18.

The ordinance was researched and development by the Kyle Youth Advisory Council – made up of local high schoolers – who say they were concerned about the trend.

Those who break the rule could face a fine of up to $500 and be required to perform community service or attend a tobacco-awareness program.

Kyle joins Georgetown in its regulation of e-cigarettes by age. San Marcos bans their use where other smoking products are prohibited – but currently does not regulate their sale by age.

Original Story (April 14, 2014): There are no state laws that address e-cigarettes in Texas, so regulation is largely left up to individual cities. Cities in the Austin area vary widely in their regulation e-cigarettes.

The City of Georgetown banned the use of electronic cigarettes in public places and work places last week. The ordinance also prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes to persons under 18 and their sale in vending machines.

One of the reasons the city passed the ordinance was because of the unknown health effects of e-cigarettes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not fully studied the devices.  

Austin

  • Does not allow smoking in work places or public places – like restaurants, bars and parks.
  • Currently does not have regulations on e-cigarettes, regarding the use or sale of them.

"The Austin smoking in public places ordinance prohibits smoking in enclosed spaces in public places, but definition in the ordinance was written before electronic cigarettes were even out there, and so the specific definition does not now include e-cigarettes," says Phil Huang, Medical Director in Health Authority with the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department.

Georgetown

  • Does not allow smoking (including e-cigarettes) in work places or public places – like restaurants, bars and parks.
  • The new ordinance also prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes to persons under 18 and their sale in vending machines.
  • E-cigarette ordinance takes effect April 23.

"I think the bottom line is we don’t really know what’s in e-cigarettes or their vapors, so I think it’s more of a step to treat them like other tobacco products," Spokesperson Keith Hutchinson says. 

San Marcos

  • Does not allow smoking (including e-cigarettes) in work places or city-owned and leased property.
  • The ban goes into effect June 1 for restaurants, bars and other places.
  • The ordinance exempts designated outdoor areas of bars and restaurants, as well as retail tobacco stores.
  • Does not currently have regulations regarding the sale of e-cigarettes, just their use.

“E-cigarettes are treated like other tobacco products in San Marcos,” Spokesperson Melissa Millecam says. “And so from what I’m reading, the studies being done there is a good deal of concern about the health impacts of these cigarettes on people.”

Round Rock

  • Does not allow smoking in work places or public places – like restaurants and parks.
  • The ordinance exempts bars and retail tobacco stores.
  • Does not currently have any regulations on e-cigarettes, regarding the use or sale of them.

“E-cigarettes are a relatively new product, and at the time we don’t have anyone on the council proposing that we update or amend our ordinance but that could certainly change,”  Spokesperson Will Hampton says.

Pflugerville

  • Does not currently regulate smoking or tobacco use at all.
  • Each business is allowed to determine whether or not they allow cigarettes within their facilities.
  • Many facilities have elected to go smoke-free.
  • Does not currently have any regulations on e-cigarettes, regarding the use or sale of them.

“In the City of Pflugerville cigarette smoking is legal in various establishments,” says Terri Waggoner, public information officer. “The city council has never taken to the issue, and specifically each business is allowed to determine whether or not they allow cigarettes within their facility.”