JOHNSON COUNTY — City councils in Coralville and North Liberty are exploring a ban on the use of electronic cigarettes anywhere traditional tobacco products are prohibited.
Doug Beardsley, director of Johnson County Public Health, said he hopes North Liberty and Coralville join the growing number of Johnson County entities — including the county, Iowa City and University of Iowa — with e-cigarette bans.
“We would like to see it consistent, countywide,” Beardsley said.
Coralville’s City Council discussed a draft amendment Tuesday that would add “vapor” and “alternative nicotine” products to the city’s Smokefree Places ordinance, which applies to all city property.
Ellen Habel, assistant city administrator, said Coralville’s draft ordinance, which would ban e-cigarettes in city buildings, places of employment and public places, could come before the board as soon as Feb. 23.
The draft includes an optional line that would ban e-cigarette use within 25 feet of the entrance to city buildings.
As an ordinance, the item would require three readings to pass.
Coralville began exploring an e-cigarette ban in October, after Beardsley shared a presentation with the council on the risks of e-cigarettes, which are battery-operated products that deliver nicotine to the user.
“We know they’re not just harmless water vapor,” Beardsley said. “Some things are OK to ingest and swallow, but when you heat it up and breathe it in, there’s a whole different range of responses in the body.”
Last month, Beardsley gave a similar presentation to the North Liberty City Council.
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Ryan Heiar, North Liberty city administrator, said the council has asked city staff to bring a draft ordinance banning e-cigarettes back to the council.
“The question the council would need to deliberate over is, if they are going to take a stance on e-cigarettes, is it going to be simply at city facilities, or will they want to look at it from a more broader perspective and basically add e-cigarettes to the Smokefree Air Act?” Heiar said.
Heiar said the council probably won’t see a draft ordinance for a few months.
The Johnson County Board of Supervisors already has banned the use of e-cigarettes inside county buildings and on county property, and the University of Iowa added e-cigarettes to its smoking policy last year.
Iowa City’s ban, passed last year, bars the use of e-cigarettes anywhere state law or city code bans smoking tobacco. That includes almost all public places, places of employment and enclosed city-owned buildings.
The Iowa Smokefree Air Act was created in 2008 and bans smoking in almost all public places and enclosed areas within places of employment, as well as some outdoor areas. The state rule does not apply to e-cigarettes.