DECATUR – E-cigarette users won’t be able to partake inside Decatur Park District facilities, the park board decided Wednesday.
By Allison Petty – April 22nd, 2016
The ban on e-cigarettes, also called e-cigs or vapes, applies to areas that already did not allow cigarette smoking, such as the golf clubhouses, Fairview Pool, Overlook Adventure Miniature Golf and Decatur Indoor Sports Center. Those facilities have designated outdoor smoking areas, and the e-cigs could be used there, Executive Director Bill Clevenger said.
“We’ve really just continued what has been in existence for a number of years and just moved the e-cigs outside to the smoking areas,” Clevenger said Thursday. “It’s an issue of the secondhand smoke; it’s an issue of customer or user convenience, and all those kinds of things that go with that.”
To those who say e-cigs are safer than cigarettes, Clevenger said the park district leaders are not scientists who can make that determination.
“I think there’s still a whole body of knowledge and research that has to take place on them,” he said. “But I know there are people who are uncomfortable around the secondhand smoke in that area just like they’re uncomfortable with secondhand smoke from a regular cigarette. We’re just standardizing what we do and our approach to both.”
Travis Edwards, owner of Spacin’ Vapors in Decatur, said he was not surprised by the move.
“We knew it was coming, and most places, if you’re in a public building like a park district building it should be common sense not to start vaping in there,” he said. “Not everybody is informed and knows that it’s safe. A lot of people look at it just like cigarettes.”
But Edwards does see a distinction between cigarettes and their electronic counterparts. E-cigarettes contain far fewer chemicals, he said. Public Health England said in a report last year that they are 95 percent safer than traditional cigarettes.
“It’s inhaling and exhaling, but the two things are completely different,” Edwards said. “With cigarettes, you are literally lighting a fire and inhaling a product, whereas with e-cigarettes you are vaporizing a liquid.”
Looking forward, park district leaders may attempt to strengthen smoking rules further in the parks, particularly in the area of children’s sports activities.
“One of the things we’re trying to focus on is just healthy behaviors for our kids and trying to provide that environment,” Clevenger said. “When you think about a park district, you think about healthy lifestyles, healthy living, fitness, all those things that go with what we stand for.”