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City of Houston Bans E-Cigarettes, Vaping in Public Spaces |

Houston’s city council approved Wednesday an amendment to the existing ordinance that bans vaping and electronic cigarettes.

According to Houston Public Media, the city’s “existing rules prohibit smoking in an enclosed public space or workplace, within 25 feet of a building entrance or exit, outdoor arenas and public transit stops,” and now “those rules are extended to electronic smoking devices, which include electronic cigarettes and cigars, vapes and any other device that uses vapors or aerosol liquids.”

The change was originally “proposed last year by the Houston Health Department in response to a growing scientific consensus on the dangers of vaping,” accordingTo the Houston Chronicle. These are now officially in place. 

The newspaper reported that the approved amendment “adds all types of e-cigarette devices—vape pens, electronic pipes and hookahs, among others—to the smoking ban, which bars cigarettes from enclosed public places and seating areas and within 25 feet of any building.” Those new rules took effect immediately following the vote on Wednesday, according to the Houston Chronicle. These rules do not apply in hookah bars and other places where smoking is legal.

The testimony of various people who voiced concern about vaping was heard by the city council. Although there is not much evidence supporting this claim, they did hear testimonials. 

Houston Public Media reported that during a public comment session before the council on Tuesday, “Dr. Lindy McGee, a pediatrician at Texas Children’s Hospital and assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine, said she was concerned about the rise in vaping among her patients. She believed electronic cigarette companies are intentionally marketing to teens.”

“Using social media, youth-enticing flavors and highly addictive nicotine, they hooked this new generation on their product,” McGee said, as quoted by the outlet.

The Houston Chronicle said that members of the city council “touted the public health benefit of regulating e-cigarettes, which are filled with a liquid nicotine derived from tobacco that becomes an aerosol when the user inhales.

“Ultra-fine particles emitted by the vapor and toxins from the devices’ heating elements can increase a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, federal studies suggest, even when nicotine-free vape liquid is used,” the Chronicle reported.

Electronic cigarettes are becoming more popular, especially among younger people. This month, U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced the results of the 2021 National Youth Tobacco Survey.

The survey found that “e-cigarettes were the most commonly used tobacco product” last year among high school and middle school students in the United States.

“E-cigarettes were the most commonly currently used tobacco product, cited by 2.06 million (7.6%) middle and high school students, followed by cigarettes (410,000; 1.5%), cigars (380,000; 1.4%), smokeless tobacco (240,000; 0.9%), hookahs (220,000; 0.8%) and nicotine pouches (200,000; 0.8%),” according to the survey.

39% of students reported that they had used tobacco products in the past 30 days. This compares to 18.9% and 20% for cigarettes, respectively.

“Among all students, perceiving ‘no’ or ‘little’ harm from intermittent tobacco product use was highest for e-cigarettes (16.6%) and lowest for cigarettes (9.6%),” according to the survey’s accompanying analysis. 

Nearly 58% said that they tried e-cigarettes after a friend recommended it and it caught their attention.