E—cigarette proposal fails

By Robin Fornoff



Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.

On a 3-2 vote Tuesday, Curry County commissioners snuffed out an effort to ban electronic cigarettes from public and private buildings.


MCT photo: Patrick McPeak

The vote followed a presentation from a 20-plus year smoker who said she’s been clean a month now, not touching tobacco thanks to her electronic conversion.

Rachael Harrell said no studies with credibility have shown vapors from e-cigs to be harmful to bystanders. She said while there may be trace amounts of nicotine, the vapor doesn’t present the documented dangers of second-hand smoke from tobacco.

Harrell said the e-cig is the longest she has been off tobacco. Instead of trying to punish smokers using the devices to kick the habit, “You should be saying, ‘Good for them.’”

Commissioner Tim Ashley said as a proponent of limited government, he couldn’t in good conscience vote for such an ordinance. He called it legislation for the sake of legislating.

Ashley also said he saw no reason why the county would want to stop or limit anyone, including county employees, trying to break a bad habit.

“If this is a tool…I certainly would like to give them an opportunity,” Ashley said.

Chairman Frank Blackburn, who voted with Commissioner Robert Sandoval in favor of the failed Clean Air ordinance, said he just didn’t like the idea of the public seeing county employees sitting at their desks with e-cigs in their mouths.

Commissioners Wendell Bostwick and Ben McDaniel said they have received many calls since law was proposed a month ago. McDaniel said some of the calls he has fielded were “from people who don’t smoke,” and none was in favor of such a ban.

“My phone’s been ringing on this issue,” said Bostwick. “I have not received one call on this issue that says this is a good idea.”

Ashley, Bostwick and McDaniel were the deciding votes to trash the proposed ban.