Discussion on enforcing proposed e-cigarette ban

WASHINGTON — Montgomery County’s proposed ban on e-cigarette use in public has been given a favorable vote by the county council committee on Health and Human Services.

Thursday’s discussion centered on dealing with some of the same questions that came up when smoking was banned in public places, including what signs would have to say, where they would have to be posted, and even, what kind of signs would have to be on display.

Council President George Leventhal said he’d fielded questions about the issue and asked Clark Beil, the senior administrator for licensure and regulatory services for the county’s Department of Health and Human Services, about what kind of signs would have to be posted in bars, restaurants, even common areas of condominiums. Language would include “no vaping”, what the e-cigarette industry and proponents call the act of using an e-cigarette as well as “no smoking.”

Leventhal wanted clarification on what types of signs would have to be posted to comply with the proposed ban. “The law would be perfectly satisfied with a piece of paper taped to the wall — I understand may interfere with the ambiance of the fine condominium, but we’re not requiring any expense at all in this regard.”

Beil confirmed that, adding “We’re very flexible” and said enforcement on the signs would be complaint-driven, that people from his office would not go out looking for a failure to update a sign.

Councilman Craig Rice said the evolution of e-cigarettes has included a new twist, the e-hookah, and wanted to be sure the bill addressed those as well. Rice’s colleagues on the committee were impressed with his knowledge on the latest trends on ‘vaping’. He joked “I’m on it!” and referring to Rice, Leventhal said “He’s the e-council member!”

The bill that would ban use of e-cigarettes in the same areas where smoking is banned goes before the full council in March.

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