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Vaping scored a victory in the city of St. Joseph, Missouri when the city council decided to separate vaping from smoking legally. This means that vaping will no longer be included in smoking bans in St. Joseph.
One council member, Gary Roach, tried to stall the vote, but failed when his motion to postpone it was defeated 4-4. He stated that he had wanted to leave the issue alone for four more weeks then vote at the next session. One council member was not present at the vote, leaving eight council members to decide. In the vote on the vaping issue, removing vaping from the smoking ban passed by a vote of 5-3.
Roach ended up voting to keep vaping under the ban. He said he worries about “lack of evidence of the health risks” of vaping. The smoking ban’s inclusion of vaping was not actually enforceable to begin with, due to a recent change in Missouri law. The new law prohibited the regulation of alternative nicotine and vapor products as tobacco products.
The city’s inclusion of vaping in the smoking ban needed to be addressed at that point.
Voters in the city had supported a separate ordinance to regulate vaping, and had also voted to include vaping in the definition of smoking when they voted in the smoking ban. But in light of the new laws on regulation, a city council work session in October was given the option to remove the vaping ban completely, leave it in place but unenforceable or create a separate specific ban on vaping. The majority present indicated a preference for removing the vaping ban completely, which ultimately came to pass at the final vote.
One council member who voted for the separation of vaping and smoking said that there have been zero complains about vaping in the two years since the smoking and vaping ban went into effect. Businesses have the option to ban vaping in their establishments, but will now not be required to.
The vote is a victory for vaping, which many experts say is safer than smoking tobacco. Despite the science that supports vaping as safer, many lawmakers and special interest groups are wary of vaping and continue to insist that vaporizers and e-cigarettes should be categorized as a tobacco products. E-cigarettes and vaporizers do not contain tobacco, nor do they involve burning or smoke. Despite this, the Federal Drug Administration does consider e-cigarettes to be tobacco products, though some states, including Missouri, do not.