TUPELO – The City Council will listen to electronic cigarette advocates and opponents sound off today before likely approving a public ban of the nicotine alternative to tobacco cigarettes.
Adding e-cigarettes to Tupelo’s existing smoking ban in public places seems likely to pass today but council members supportive of expanding the 2006 ordinance two weeks ago may remain skeptical until the entire group raises its hands to vote.
A council majority had voiced support two weeks ago for the public ban of e-cigarettes, which use flavored water vapor as a method to ingest addictive nicotine. However, two who had done so – Lynn Bryan of Ward 2 and Markel Whittington of Ward 1 – changed their minds, saying the ban needed exceptions to allow use of cigarettes, cigars and e-cigarettes in specialty shops focused on selling related products.
Council members received a draft ordinance the day of the Aug. 5 meeting allowing the business exceptions, but Bryan and Whittington voted against discussing it. Whittington said he needed more time to review the document.
Tupelo residents and others will speak to the council about the issue before a vote on the public ban Bryan and Whittington say they’ll support.
Willie Jennings of Ward 7 encouraged the councilmen at a Monday work session to share any wavering thoughts to prevent a repeat of the previous meeting.
“It was indicated that everybody was OK with it who was going to vote for it,” Jennings said. “I’m a man of my word.”
Councilmen Buddy Palmer of Ward 5, Mike Bryan of Ward 6 and Jennings previously voted to discuss the public ban, while Lynn Bryan and Whittington joined Nettie Davis of Ward 4 in opposition.
E-cigarettes currently face no regulations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration but could face the same requirements as tobacco cigarettes within months. Limited research on the health impact of e-cigarette use exists. Users of the products invented in China a decade ago say vaping helps to kick the tobacco cigarette habit.
FDA analysis of e-cigarette products has revealed toxic chemicals, including one found in anti-freeze.