CLEVELAND, Tenn. - The Bradley County Commission is preparing to consider imposing restrictions on the smoking of e-cigarettes on county properties where tobacco use now is prohibited.
Commissioner Charlotte Peak-Jones, who is sponsoring the resolution, said it's being drafted and reviewed by the county attorney.
"We don't know all the health effects of e-cigarette vapor yet, but we don't need to wait to address this issue," she said. "I know I don't want to have to breathe all those chemicals, and I don't think the public should either."
E-cigs do not produce a combustible "smoke" like lit cigarettes, and they do not contain tar. Health groups are divided over whether "vaping" is a good alternative to smoking, or if it's trading one harmful habit for another.
Supporters such as Turner Ames, who works at Vapor Tonics in Chattanooga, say vapor products are not tobacco products.
"I feel much better, much healthier than I did when I smoked," Ames told the Times Free Press in March. His boss, shop owner Ben Connally, said many of his patrons are former smokers.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called for a long-term study of e-cigarettes' impact on health.
"Until there is infallible proof that e-cigarettes do not pose a health risk to the public, I believe we should ban their use like we do for tobacco," Peak-Jones said. "If it turns out there are no risks associated with them, we can change the restrictions."
Bradley County joins the East Ridge City Council in discussing e-cigarette restrictions. Thus far, no municipality in Tennessee has forbidden the use of e-cigarettes in smoke-free areas, records show.
The Bradley County Mayor's Office has approved the proposal to address e-cigarette usage.
"We feel that Commissioner Charlotte Peak-Jones and the Bradley County Commission are attempting to be proactive in determining their approach to this newer nicotine delivery system and devices," Dr. Lindsay Hathcock, executive assistant to Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis, said in an email.
He said current restrictions prohibit tobacco use in Bradley County buildings, but not e-cigarettes explicitly.
He said the mayor's office has not received any complaints about people using e-cigarettes in county buildings.
Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.