Louisville mayor wants community to consider expanding city's smoking ban
Should Louisville's smoking ban be expanded to include e-cigarettes and hookah?
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer is asking the the public to hold a "community conversation" on whether Louisville's current smoking ban should be expanded to include e-cigarettes and hookah.
According to a news release, Fischer has tapped the Louisville Department of Health and Wellness to lead the conversation.
"Smoking has devastated our community, causing pain, suffering and shortened lives, and saddled taxpayers with enormous healthcare costs," Mayor Fischer said. "I believe broadening the ban to include e-cigarettes and hookah is a logical extension of the battle to save lives from the dangers of tobacco, and today I ask the Public Health Department to begin a community conversation on this pressing issue."
Fischer asked the health department to review available research, study other cities' related actions and seek public input in a conversation on the issue. The department will set up meetings where citizens can hear experts discuss available research and offer their opinions on the products and a potential ban.
Mayor Fischer says any proposed ban would affect only public places, so citizens would still be allowed to use these products in their homes and other private spaces.
"One of the pillars of my administration is to make Louisville a healthier community," Fischer said. "The health department review and conversation will give us the tools to ensure we're doing that in a measured and effective way."
That announcement has 723 Vapor general manager Sean Sullivan wondering about what could happen to his shop.
"It would honestly just be a very big loss," Sullivan said.
The devices could potentially be included in the city's current smoking ban passed in 2008, which prohibits smoking in all "indoor locations."
With more than 200 flavors available to customers, Sullivan says the only way to test them out is to smoke inside the store.
"There are 60 shops in Louisville alone that are employing over 500 different employees. If we can't run a business, that's 500 people that are completely out of a job," Sullivan said.
If the ban causes vapor shops to close, Sullivan says it could cause unnecessary harm with more e-cigarettes exploding because of a lack in education.
And while the argument arises that e-cigarettes help with a tobacco addiction, some health officials argue the devices are just as harmful as traditional cigarettes.
"A good majority of our customers are people who are trying to quit smoking," Sullivan said.
The meetings by the health department are expected to include expert discussions and citizen opinion. No dates have been announced.
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