Ashwaubenon bans e-cigarette smoking in public places

ASHWAUBENON – E-cigarette smokers in Ashwaubenon will soon have to follow the same rules as people who use regular tobacco products.

The village board voted unanimously to revise its smoking ban.

Brian Cummings started using e-cigarettes because he wanted to quit smoking.

“I’ve smoked for 20 years and with the vaping, I was basically able to quite smoking within the first four days,” explained Cummings.

The devices contain nicotine, and release vapor, instead of smoke.

“We banned them everywhere you would use tobacco,” said Ashwaubenon Village President Mike Aubinger.

Starting Friday, the rules for electronic cigarettes will change in Ashwaubenon.

“It’s not preventing you from buying them, it’s just preventing you from using them in certain public facilities,” Aubinger said.

Aubinger says the board felt smoking e-cigarettes mimics a bad habit, and that the vapor is irritating.

He adds the ban stemmed from a request by school district administrators to address the use of e-cigarettes on school property.

“We have a district policy that includes the banning of e-cigarettes, as well as other tobacco products, but by the village ordinance being passed now, that now allows us to enforce that ban in terms of a municipal citation,” said Ashwaubenon Schools Superintendent Brian Hanes.

So why does the ban apply to the entire village?

“We then said this becomes confusing to people about where they can and cannot use them,” explained Aubinger.

Vapin USA store manager Nolan Marzett is still confused.

“They said public places, we don’t know if our private owned business could be considered a public place,” said Marzett.

Marzett says the Oneida Street store offers around 300 flavors for customers to try before they buy.

“We want it to be something that they use on a consistent basis, so they do not go back and smoke. Well, if we cannot vape in our store, they can’t try the flavors,” Marzett said.

I looked at the ordinance. Here are the facts:

-The law modifies the definition of smoking to include smoking of electronic cigarettes, cigars and pipes

-Using those devices is banned in public places, school grounds and municipal buildings

-“Public place” means any enclosed place that is open to the public, or a place to which the public has lawful access or may be invited

That would include Vapin USA.

“I don’t like it,” said Cummings.

Cummings says the ban will limit his time spent in the area.

“I would definitely stay away from places where I’m not able to vape, that’s for sure. When I’m out enjoying myself, I would like to include that as part of my being out,” Cummings said.

Wisconsin’s indoor smoking ban only addresses tobacco products. A measure to exempt e-cigarettes from the ban stalled in the Legislature earlier this year.

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