Bradley County Commission members cleared the air — so to speak — about the consideration of regulating or banning the use of e-cigarettes on county properties.
Fourth District Commissioner Charlotte Peak-Jones raised the issue last week, resulting in a request to the county attorney for suggestions of potential rules that might be set concerning the new electronic-cigarette replacement for smoking.
However, some proponents of “vaping” were concerned the suggestion went further — even to the point of not allowing them to be sold within the county’s borders.
Steve Nair, proprietor of Mountain Oak Vapors on North Lee Highway, spoke to the Commission with almost two dozen supporters backing him in the audience.
“The fact is we believe these products are life-changing and revolutionary. We believe they are a benefit to public health,” Nair said. “We do not want to be classified as a tobacco product or a cigarette. It is not a cigarette. It is substantially different.”
He said the group could be supportive of rules in areas such as courthouses and town halls, but believed “businesses can have their own voice and if they want to permit the use of these products on their premises, they should be able to do so or not.”
Fourth District Commissioner J. Adam Lowe noted the restrictions proposed by East Ridge are different than what Bradley County is going to study.
“East Ridge is a city charter and [as such has] the ability to pass ordinances and bans,” Lowe said. “This Commission hasn’t passed a ban in its history and wouldn’t start now.”
He reiterated the county discussion was about restrictions in county facilities only.
“Every business owner has a right already to decide what they want to allow in their business,” Lowe said. “We are still in the county business, and that is our discussion: whether it should be allowed in county buildings.”
He said he understood the sensitivity about referring to e-cigarettes as a tobacco product.
“It’s not,” Lowe said. “We’ve had that conversation at Cleveland State because we’re a tobacco-free campus and we’re having to decide now whether to be a nicotine-free campus.”
Commissioners will discuss the issue more at its work session next Tuesday night at 7 p.m.