March 21, 2014 12:14:53 PM
HERNANDO -- DeSoto County has added electronic cigarettes to a local smoking ban in government buildings.
"There's just tons and tons of material out there on e-cigarettes, but there are no conclusive studies and they remain unregulated," County Administrator Vanessa Lynchard told supervisors this week.
"Some places allow people to smoke e-cigarettes at their desks and also take tobacco smoke breaks outside, and some don't," Lynchard said. "It's all over the map."
The e-cigarettes replace tobacco by heating a nicotine-solution into a vapor that is inhaled. The practice, known as "vaping" has been increasing in popularity, with e-cigarette devices ranging in price from several dollars, to several thousand dollars.
They are sold with flavored nicotine solutions. Some mirror the taste of cigarettes, while others have flavors such as chocolate or gummy bear.
The Food and Drug Administration plans to regulate e-cigarettes but has not yet issued proposed rules. For now, the agency simply states on its website that "e-cigarettes have not been fully studied so consumers currently don't know the potential risks of e-cigarettes," including how much nicotine or other chemicals are inhaled, or if they "may lead young people to try ... conventional cigarettes."
DeSoto County joins New York City, Arkansas, New Jersey, North Dakota and Utah in placing e-cigarettes on indoor-smoking regulations; a ban in Chicago starts April 29.
The Commercial Appeal reports the board of supervisors, wanting to veer to the side of health and public safety, approved the recommendation unanimously.
In 1997, DeSoto County banned smoking in all public areas of county-owned buildings except in designated areas. Recently, supervisors updated the policy by prohibiting smoking in all county buildings with no designated smoking areas.