Puffing away at an electronic cigarette could soon be outlawed in the same public areas in Roswell as the real deal.
A committee recommended Monday banning the vaporizers and including the language as part of the city’s no-smoking policy.
City councilors will consider advertising the amendment to the city’s cigarette ban to include e-cigarettes at their regular meeting March 13.
Councilor Steve Henderson told the Building and Lands Committee he came up with the idea one day. He and his wife were sitting at an airport with their backs to a man who was steaming up the airways with his e-cigarette.
“It was coming over our way and it was unpleasant and I think we need to deal with it,” Henderson said.
Henderson said he felt the e-cigarettes still contained a vapor with nicotine.
The battery-powered electronic devices vaporize a nicotine-filled liquid that can be flavored. They are often used as an alternative to traditional cigarettes.
Experts disagree on whether the devices reduce habitual smoking. Lawmakers recently have taken stands against them, saying they encourage underage smoking.
Henderson said his main objection was the public nuisance aspect.
“It’s objectionable, if it’s in a meeting or in a public place,” Henderson said.
The city passed its anti-smoking ordinance in 2004. The change would modify language to include all electronic smoking devices.
“A number of communities have already taken action on this deal,” Henderson said. “It’s a big problem and I think we owe our citizens the same right under the tobacco ordinance.”
Henderson said he had been working on the issue with City Attorney Barbara Patterson since November.
The language can be combined to include e-cigarettes, cigars and other e-smoking devices, Patterson said.
Committee chairman and Councilor Jason Perry agreed with the change.
“When you originally brought this up, I wasn’t sure,” Perry said. “I don’t smoke and have no desire to smoke. But we have a lady in our church who had to miss a couple of services. She was in a place where the vapors triggered a severe asthma attack. It alerted me to … it doesn’t have to be the nicotine component.”
Henderson said the smell was an issue, as users can get the smoke in chocolate, cherry and other flavors.
Committee members Perry, Henderson and Councilor Juan Oropesa voted in favor of moving the idea on to City Council for further consideration.