Milton leaders discuss possible vaping law about where people can puff

E-cigarettes may be more harmful to tour heart than regular cigarettes

Milton is considering a law limiting where people can vape.

Members of the Milton City Council said at a Monday work session that any action would be aimed at improving public health and helping youth, among whom vaping is a particular concern.

As e-cigarettes and vaping become more popular and the state works to regulate them, cities like Milton are left ruled by a patchwork of laws around smoking and vaping.

In March, Milton leaders voted to discourage new vape shops from opening in the rural city of 40,000.

But under current city law it is legal to vape in public parks, which concerns city leaders because they say they don’t know what’s in the vapor that’s released into the air. That’s why they are looking to crack down on vaping where they can.

Leaders seemed to favor a ban on vaping at all city-owned property but gave no timeline. They also acknowledged that they are waiting to see if the state will take any action in light of the larger health worries.

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New information released Thursday from the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control show that nationally, there have been 52 vaping-related deaths confirmed between 26 states, including Georgia. The Georgia Department of Public Health said there have been four deaths in the state tied to a severe lung disease attributed to vaping. They ranged in age from 14 to 68 years old.

Vapes and e-cigarettes have a small heating element that turns liquid nicotine — often mixed with flavoring — into a vapor that doesn’t linger or smell like tobacco smoke. Some devices can take cartridges that have THC, the substance in marijuana that gives a high, but these are not legal in Georgia.

People in all levels of government are discussing what to do about vaping.

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President Donald Trump has had multiple viewpoints on e-cigarettes/vaping — including a large ban of selling flavored e-cigs — before news reports say he backed off. But in November, Trump showed support for raising the age of sales to 21.

As reported Wednesday, the chairwoman of a state House health panel said she wants Georgia to stop sales of flavored vaping liquids and raise the buying age to 21. House Health and Human Services Chairwoman Sharon Cooper thinks the General Assembly will consider legislation to cut down on underage use of the e-cigarettes, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

An Alpharetta student in October 2018 became unconscious after vaping "Green Mist" while at King's Ridge Christian School. Reports indicate the product was purchased from a Milton vape shop.

Milton’s city manager Steve Krokoff said a 2005 state law already protects the city from smoking in restaurants, bars and other enclosed places — but the problem, he said, is that vaping is not covered under that ban.

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A representative of the American Heart Association told Milton council members that they should consider a ban of all smoking and vaping like the city of Atlanta did in July.

Atlanta issued a wide ban on smoking and vaping — set to start Jan. 2, 2020 — in restaurants, bars and workplaces along with Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

Milton has signs up in some city-owned property, including city hall, that prohibits vaping. But there are gaps, like that people can currently vape in city parks, Krokoff said.

The City Council questioned whether a ban on vaping in parks would be good enough because there are gray areas like Broadwell Pavilion, which hosts farmers markets.

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