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Allegheny County to consider e-cigarette ban in public places

| Monday, Jan. 2, 2017, 8:03 p.m.
Stephanie Strasburg | Trib Total Media
Kurt Loeblich, 24, of Highland, Ill., vapes at the VCCPA15: A Vaping & eCig Convention at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Downtown on Sunday, June 14, 2015. Loeblich, president of Cloud Chasers Inc., was visiting vaping conventions across the country.

Allegheny County Council members on Tuesday are set to consider a controversial ban on vaping in public places.

The county's Board of Health recommended the ban in November, which would be the same as the county's ban on smoking that took effect a decade ago.

The council will likely not vote on the legislation Tuesday, but will first send it to a committee for review.

Under the proposal, vaping and e-cigarettes would be banned everywhere cigarette smoking is banned – enclosed workplaces, schools, restaurants, health care-related properties, theaters, sports facilities and transit stations.

Vaping, like cigarette smoking, would still be allowed in bars, in private residences (except those licensed as child care facilities), private social functions (unless the site is operated, owned or leased by the government) and tobacco shops. All of those locations are protected under the state's Clean Indoor Air Act.

The county legislation would also allow vaping in specialty e-cigarette shops as long as they meet a list of requirements, including: e-cigarette-related sales must make up at least half of its gross annual sales, vapors from the shop must not drift into an enclosed area where e-cigarettes are banned, the shop must not sell or serve food that can be consumed on site, and must not allow youths under 18 to enter.

Vaping uses either battery-operated devices or e-cigarettes that heat liquids containing differing levels of nicotine. The nicotine is inhaled and clouds of vapor are exhaled.

During a County Council meeting last month, about half a dozen people commented on the matter – roughly half in favor and half against.

Vape shop owners contend that vaping can help people quit smoking and is far less damaging than cigarettes. Members of Tobacco Free Allegheny advocated in favor of the ban.

More people could show up to Tuesday's meeting now that the issues on council's agenda.

The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association, a pro-vaping national nonprofit with 200,000 registered members, posted an alert to its website Monday urging members to show up to the meeting to speak out against the ban, or submit written comments.Theresa Clift is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-5669 or tclift@tribweb.com.

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