Tempe bans e-cigarettes in public places

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Tempe just became the first Arizona city to ban electronic cigarettes in bars, restaurants and enclosed public places.

The Tempe City Council voted 5-1 Thursday to approve the ordinance but not without opposition from citizens.

"I think that's a loss for me as someone who's trying to avoid (smoking)," said Charles Ory, who has been trying to kick the habit for about 20 years. "Gum, patches, cold turkey -- you name it, I've tried it."

But then Ory tried e-cigarettes.

"It's been amazing," he said. "It's a wonderful alternative to smoking."

E-cigarettes are battery-operated products that turn nicotine and other chemicals into an aerosol, which is inhaled by the user. They are designed to look like conventional cigarettes, cigars and pipes.

People trying to quit smoking aren't the only ones upset by the ban. Some business owners think they should be able to decide whether to allow "vaping" in their establishments.

"Please don't banish all the people to the smoking section who just got free of tobacco," said Lee Phemister, a former smoker who opened Snyergy Vapor Labs to help others quit smoking.

He believes the council's decision was based on fear of the unknown and not understanding the product.

"Because it looks like smoking then it must be smoking, so therefore, it must be harmful for you," Phemister said. "This kind of decision is best off left in the hands of the business owner."

Ory is worried that being banished to smoking areas could have a negative impact on people trying to quit.

"Just the secondhand smoke alone, I think, is a big setback for people who are looking for alternative to cigarettes," he said.

E-cigarettes have not been fully studied, and the council said it would reconsider the ban if there is new research.