El Paso smoking ordinance may change to include vaping

EL PASO, Texas - El Paso City Council members are considering adding electronic cigarettes and vaporizers to the current smoking ordinance, which bans smoking in many public places.

"The reason I do this is for my mom. I lost my mom to lung cancer almost three years ago to the date, June 6," Vapor House owner Patricia Weller said after attending the city council special meeting Monday.

Weller, and others, insist vaping is safer than cigarettes. They are asking El Paso City Council members not to add them to the existing smoking ordinance that bans smoking in many public places.

"Opening up my own vapor store really spoke to me because I wanted to help people quit smoking," Weller said.

The difference between electronic cigarettes and vaporizers is size, capacity of often nicotine-laced liquid and style.

"I'm a respectful vaper. If I go to a restaurant, I blow it under the table. I do not do it in people's faces," vaper Georgia Foret said.

If vaping is added to the El Paso smoking ordinance, those who use the devices will have to share designated smoking areas with traditional cigarette smokers. Vapers say that would tempt them to go back to smoking and expose them to second-hand smoke.

"Although there's some e-cigs that do not have nicotine, the Food and Drug Administration has found other carcinogens ... that can be harmful to health," Hector Ocaranza from the El Paso Public Health Department said.

The debate continues, as council voted to hear more facts on the matter June 10.

"I'm a mother and a daughter and I strive to get people to quit smoking," Weller said.

Ocaranza says the FDA has not approved vaping as a safer alternative to smoking. Instead, the agency issued a warning for them but says lack of clinical studies means it's unknown if they work as intended.

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