While they may appear similar to traditional tobacco products, the electronic devices known as “e-cigarettes” are far from it. The battery powered devices act as a vaporizer, heating up a chemical mixture to deliver nicotine to the user and then releasing a cloud of vapor in the air. A state lawmaker worries they are being lumped in with regular cigarettes though, and wants to keep businesses from banning their use under the state’s smoking ban.
State Senator Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) is sponsoring legislation that would add language to Wisconsin’s smoking ban, making it clear they are exempt from the law.
The West Bend Republican says the purpose of the devices is to get people to stop using traditional cigarettes, which is something the state should be encouraging smokers to do. While he has not heard more than a handful of complaints about businesses banning their use, Grothman says he wants to address the issue to keep it from becoming an ongoing problem as e-cigarettes grow in popularity.
Because the current law includes no mention of the devices, Melissa Horn with Health First Wisconsin believes changing the smoking ban to even mention them is completely unnecessary. She says current interpretations of the law show the devices are perfectly legal to use in public, unless a business moves to ban them on its own.
Horn also notes that health officials are still evaluating e-cigarettes to see if they pose any danger to the health of users or those around them.
Grothman hopes to have a hearing held on the bill when the Legislature returns in January.