WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — On Tuesday Williamson County’s ban on using electronic cigarettes on county property went into effect. Commissioners approved an amendment to the county’s tobacco-free workplace policy last week to add e-cigarettes.
“If you come to do any business with the county, if you come to do taxes, if you have a court date anything like, the county land does have a prohibition on tobacco use,” said Connie Watson, a spokesperson for Williamson County.
The county said the devices are not FDA approved and said there’s still a lot of unknowns about E-Cigarettes, but users believe it’s a better alternative to traditional cigarettes and is not a tobacco product.
“There’s a lot of people that don’t understand it so they tend to think it’s like regular smoking which is not, there’s no tobacco,” said Allin Still, owner of Peace Pipe Vapor Store in Georgetown.
He and his wife Debi smoked cigarettes for about 50 years and switched to electronic cigarettes. They liked “vaping” so much, they started their own store in 2012 and are huge advocates of e-cigs.
“It’s a win-win situation for someone who has the habit,” said Still. “It’s a good way to get your nicotine and weaning you off of that into a healthier lifestyle,” said Still.
The hand held device runs off a battery that vaporizes a nicotine solution when it’s inhaled. The “e-liquid” which produces the vapor and comes in many flavors. Still says the ingredients include flavoring which is found in candy, cakes and ice cream, Propylene Glycol and Vegetable Glycerine.
“A lot of people don’t understand what electronic cigarettes are they see smoke and they think immediately smoking,” said Still. “Exhale from an electronic cigarette is water vapor which contains the smell for maybe 3-to-5 seconds and it’s gone so you don’t have any residue in your clothes, in your hair.”
The county said even though people in favor of e-cigaretts have said it’s helped them quit smoking, there’s not enough evidence to support those claims. It believes there are so many unknowns that it’s important to, “protecte the health and welfare of those employees and the public.”
“From the perspective of a second hand person, you don’t know what somebody has in their e-cigarette,” said Watson. “You don’t know if it contains nicotine so the second hand smoke the effects from that are really unknown.”
The policy excludes Williamson County parks, roads, the jail or the Central Texas Treatment Center. The county originally adopted a tobacco-free campus policy in 2010.
Banning e-cigarettes is a growing trend that’s happening across many local governments in Texas and across the country. San Marcos started it’s smoking ban this year which prohibits people from smoking in enclosed public spaces and work places. According to the city, people can’t smoke within 10 feet of doors and windows and on City-owned or rented property. That includes parks, city facilities and City Hall.
The rule doesn’t include outdoor areas of bars, restaurants and the ordinance exempts designated outdoor areas of bars and restaurants, as well as retail tobacco stores.