Orange Co. health officials want to ban e-cigarettes in restaurants, bars

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Orange County Health officials are looking to ban electronic cigarettes at restaurants and bars.

County health officials are citing new research for the change. Emerging research suggests people who breathe in second-hand vapor from e-cigarettes could face potential health risks, according to the Orange County Health Department.

“Some of those chemicals have been tested and are known irritants and some of them are known to cause disease,” said Coby Jansen Austin, the Tobacco Prevention and Control Director for the Orange County Health Department. “The board feels that given the current science, this is an important move for them to take to help protect the health of people here in Orange County.”

Orange County Health officials said they would enforce the ban like the current smoking ban.

Marc Sylvestre, vice president of The Vapor Girl in Chapel Hill, believes the ban is premature and calls it a “slap in the face for people who vape.”

“Right now the FDA is doing numerous studies on the effects of FDA vapor and they have not yet found any dangerous evidence or harm from second hand vapor,” said Sylvestre. “I think it will hurt business in Orange County because a lot of people are going to go to bars and restaurants in Durham County or Alamance County where you’re allowed to vape.”

Last month — Durham County issued a ban on e-cigarettes on city and county property, including parks, trails, and athletic fields. Orange County would be one of the first counties in the state to pass an e-cigarette proposal in bars and restaurants.

Officials said it could take a couple of months to write the policy and they will seek public comment. County health officials said a vote could come as early as March or April.

If the ban is passed, county health officials said there would be plenty of time for business owners to prepare for the change before the new rule is implemented.

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