Beloit bans minors from possessing vaping devices, restricts where devices can be used

The Beloit City Council passed an ordinance Tuesday that limits the use of vaping products, including banning the possession of vaping and e-cigarette devices by minors.

Beloit city spokeswoman Sarah Millard said Wednesday the ordinance prohibits the use of e-cigarette devices in the same areas where the smoking of cigarettes and cigars is banned. The ordinance goes into effect Sept. 11.

Millard said it was passed on the first day of school with the intention of keeping the devices out of the hands of children.

“We care about our kids,” Millard said. “We want them to have the best life they possibly can. We don’t want them to be harmed by these chemicals. We don’t want them to be addicted to these devices either.”

According to the Millard, prohibited areas include all enclosed spaces that are workplaces or public places, including child care facilities, schools, health care facilities, theaters, restaurants and bars, retail establishments, government buildings, sports arenas, bus shelters and other public transportation facilities.

The ordinance change also prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, Millard said. The fine for a minor in possession of an e-cigarette device is $50 plus court costs; the fine for all other violations is $100 plus court costs.

“The City is concerned about the health impacts of vaping on our youth who are unaware of the risks associated with the use of e-cigarettes,” City Manager Lori Curtis Luther said in a news release. “We’re hoping this ordinance change will lead to proactive prevention so the city does not have to take enforcement action against those selling these devices to minors or to minors in possession of these devices.”

According to the news release, preliminary studies indicate that non-users can be exposed to the same potentially harmful chemicals as users, including nicotine, ultrafine particles and volatile organic compounds, which could be especially problematic for children, pregnant women and people with heart disease. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has confirmed 32 cases of lung disease connected to vaping, and the City of Milwaukee Health Department has been warning about the impacts of e-cigarettes, with 16 individuals hospitalized with chemical pneumonia due to vaping.

Millard said the Beloit group Youth2Youth spoke in favor of the decision at Tuesday night’s city council meeting.

“We’re changing the perception of vaping,” said Youth2Youth Executive Director Debbie Fischer. “Not allowing people to vape in public places protects the workers, but most of all, it lets kids know its not the norm.”

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