You will no longer be able to smoke e-cigarettes and similar devices in indoor public spaces in South Milwaukee, according to an ordinance change backed by the South Milwaukee City Council by a 5-3 vote on Tuesday.
The revised ordinance essentially extends the restrictions placed on traditional cigarettes to e-cigarettes, meaning the latter can no longer be used in “any enclosed space of a public place or place of employment,” among other places.
I support the ban, and I think the ordinance purpose statement sums it up well …
The Common council recognized that smoking of cigarettes and tobacco products is hazardous to an individual’s health and may affect the health of nonsmokers/smokers when they are involuntarily in the presence of smoking. Reliable scientific studies assessed by credible health officials have found that secondhand tobacco smoke is a significant health hazard for children, elderly people, and individuals with cardiovascular disease or impaired respiratory function. Air pollution caused by smoking is an offensive annoyance and irritant. Smoking results in serious and significant physical discomfort to nonsmokers. The purported health benefits from electronic smoking devices (commonly known as e-cigarettes, e-pipes and several other trade and brand names) have not been scientifically proven, and use of these devices has not been proven safe, either for their users or for bystanders. Research indicates electronic smoking devices may lead youth to try other tobacco products. In addition, research indicates that youth who use electronic smoking devices are more likely to use tobacco products, including cigarettes, than those youth who do not use electronic smoking devices. Adopting this ordinance will promote the health, safety, comfort and general welfare of the people of the City of South Milwaukee, and especially the health interests of nonsmokers, who constitute a majority of the population of the City.
Governments can and should play a role in promoting public health, and creating regulations to do so. This is a good example of the city being proactive in doing that, even as the state determines its position on the issue.
Of course, there is reasonable disagreement on this. But, for me, as one advocate said at Tuesday’s city council meeting, allowing even e-cigarette smoking is “an invasion of clean indoor air.” It’s our job to protect against that invasion, stand up for public health and send a message that all smoking is bad. We are doing that with this ordinance change.