St. Petersburg city officials consider banning e-cigarettes from public places

Leaders work to restrict e-cigarette use
Posted at 7:51 PM, Feb 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-03 02:12:27-05

St. Petersburg city officials are considering banning e-cigarettes from public parks, buildings and recreational areas in an effort to crack down on minors vaping. 

The Energy, Natural Resources and Sustainability is proposing to add e-cigarettes to the city's ordinance regarding cigarette and tobacco use in an effort to promote a healthier city. 

Earlier this year city officials voted to ban chewing tobacco from public places, including parks and athletic facilities. 

They also are considering banning e-cigarette use in parks and public facilities like they did with smokeless tobacco. 

"To the degree that we can sort of mirror what regulations are on cigarettes, that's what we'd like to do," St. Petersburg City Councilman Karl Nurse said. 

"It's addiction by a different method."  

Shops that sell e-cigarettes would be required to post a sign saying they do not sell to anyone under the age of 18.

Without posting a sign, they would be banned from openly displaying items. 

The federal Centers for Disease Control reports some 2.4 million high school and middle school students have used e-cigarettes. 

They also report spending for advertising the product went up from $6.4 million in 2011 to $115 million in 2014.

Nurse said they want to stop giving minors access to the product that could lead to an addiction. 

Shops like Totally Wicked in St. Petersburg already post signs displaying they won't sell to minors. 

State law requires employees check customers' identification if they look younger than 27. 

"Even if they look like they're 40 years old, if they don't have ID we ask them to leave," said Alex Polk, a manager at Totally Wicked.

They keep their products in a locked display. 

"Kids are going to be attracted to this anyway," said Polk, "but we have to do everything we can to just check them at the door." 

Polk believes there are other ways to keep minors from e-cigarettes that don't require banning all adults from vaping. 

"Telling people where they can and can't do stuff is pretty annoying, if you're just trying to smoke," Polk said. 

During the St. Petersburg City Council meeting Thursday, council members agreed to more discussion of the proposed rules in a public hearing scheduled for Feb. 16.