Vaping Ban Takes Effect

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Michelle Phillips

MIDDLETON–A Middleton city ordinance banning the use of vape products where smoking is banned went into effect on Sept. 6, just one day after Public Health of Madison and Dane County (PHMDC) issued a health warning concerning the use of the devices.

The measure was proposed in Middleton by Alders Dan Ramsey and Luke Fuszard in May, before 53 hospitalizations in Wisconsin and Illinois and five deaths around the nation were related to flavored, liquid vaping solution. All of the patients were experiencing respiratory problems, and in many of the incidents the liquid was acquired on the street affecting both nicotine and THC products.

Ramsey said that he and Fuszard had a conversation about the electronic smoking devices in April. “We thought that given the negative health effects of vaping, that including it in our non- smoking ordinance would be a good idea. Luke and I co-sponsored the ordinance change and referred it to L&O (Licensing and Ordinances) in May. At L&O assistant city attorney Matt Fleming put together the language and included it in our Smoking Prohibited ordinance 6.09,” Ramsey said of the ordinance’s timeline.

“The License and Ordinance committee voted on the prohibition before the recent news of hospitalizations and deaths. We felt even before the latest news that vaping was public safety concern and needed our attention,” Ramsey added.

Citing potential health concerns and the lack of FDA regulation, the ordinance also voices concern about secondhand inhalation of the vapor and ingredients allowed in the liquid.

The ordinance reads: 

The contents of cartridges vary widely and may contain nicotine, traces of nicotine, carcinogens, formaldehyde, antifreeze and other toxic substances which may pose health risks for users and bystanders. Electronic smoking devices do not produce a gas or vapor but rather a dense visible aerosol of liquid submicron droplets consisting of glycols, nicotine, and other chemicals, some of which are carcinogenic. Packaging does not consistently include health warnings as required for conventional cigarettes and does not provide notice of harmful effects, nicotine concentration levels, or the existence or content levels of toxic substances.

The ordinance goes on to list ingredients, including nicotine, which has been proven a health hazard to both kids and adults. It also points out nicotine addiction as a potential hazard. 

Middleton Mayor Gurdip Brar said, “Since we already have smoking ordinance in place. It was easy to add to it.We have to do all we can do to protect the health and lives of all people especially young people.”

“I urge everyone that currently uses vaping devices to inhale THC or nicotine to stop immediately, and encourage others to not begin using these products,” said Janel Heinrich, PHMDC’s Health Officer. “Parents and educators can also help by talking with youth, since no amount of marijuana or nicotine use during adolescence is ever safe.”

The State of Michigan recently banned the use of all flavored, liquid vape cartridges as well as all in one vape pens, in the wake of recent health concerns. It is the first state in the nation to issue a ban on the products themselves, though cities around the country have enacted bans on public vaping. 

“Vaping is becoming epidemic. It has serious health effects and it appears to be addictive. Young people feel it is a cool thing to do without realizing its health effects and even death,” concluded Brar. 

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