Park Service aims to limit e-cigarette use in national parks

WASHINGTON — The National Park Service wants to add electronic cigarettes to its smoking policy, which often forbids smoking in public enclosed facilities, such as restaurants and visitor centers.

“Some people have said ‘You’re going to ban smoking,’” said Jeffrey Olson, spokesperson with the National Park Service. “We’re not — smoking is not banned in national parks.”

The proposed revision, which is open for public comment until March 7, would add electronic cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems, to the current smoking policy regarding cigarettes, cigars and pipes.

For years, superintendents in each national park have been allowed to ban smoking in indoor facilities, including restaurants and visitor centers.

“If you can smoke a ‘cigarette cigarette’ somewhere in a park now, you’ll be able to smoke an e-cigarette,” said Olson. “If there’s a place that you cannot smoke in a national park right now, we’re simply adding e-cigarettes to that list.”

In a news release, Michael Reynolds, acting director of the park service, cited findings from the Food and Drug Administration and Surgeon General, saying electronic cigarettes ‘are a threat to public health, especially to the health of young people.’”

Olson was asked whether the park service is attempting to influence a person’s right to choose whether to smoke.

“I don’t think that’s our intention,” Olson said. “We’re updating regulations so they match with our existing policy — it’s simply a new piece of technology that’s added to the world of smoking.”

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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