Mesa City Council Bans Vaping In Public Places

Published: Monday, December 9, 2019 - 8:58pm
Updated: Tuesday, December 10, 2019 - 5:14pm
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The Mesa City Council voted to make it illegal to vape in public places, becoming the latest Arizona city or town to restrict the use of vaping products.

The council voted 5-2 on an ordinance that sweeps vaping under existing rules that bar smoking tobacco products in public places, areas known as smoke-free zones.

“The ordinance that we’re proposing is not a ban on vaping. People can vape to their heart’s content in their homes, in their cars, in private places,” Mesa Mayor John Giles said. “What we’re doing is saying you can’t impose that secondhand vape on those around you in public places.”

Vape shop owners asked the city to table the vote, citing confusion over the potential impact on their businesses.

Their appeal swayed two votes on the council, but the remaining five council members voted to move forward anyway amid promises from city officials to spend the coming months helping to educate the community about the impact of the ordinance.

Mesa officials said they won’t enforce the new vaping ban in public places for another six months.

The ordinance mirrors one adopted by Tempe officials in 2014 and follows local votes in at least four other Arizona cities on even stricter regulations for vaping products.

Officials in Cottonwood, Douglas, Flagstaff and Tucson have adopted similar restrictions against the use of vaping products in public places, but also have banned the sale of tobacco or vaping products to anyone under the age of 21.

The Mesa council’s vote comes amid disagreement at the state Capitol, where some lawmakers support local regulations of a product they say must be kept out of the hands of children.

Sen. Heather Carter, a Cave Creek Republican who’s unsuccessfully pushed legislation to ban the sale of vaping and tobacco products to anyone 20-years-old or younger at the state level, has applauded cities and towns for acting where state lawmakers have failed.

But her fellow Republican, Rep. T.J. Shope, has asked the attorney general’s opinion on whether cities and towns have overstepped their authority by adopting restrictions on an industry without express authority to do so in state law.

Giles said he sees no conflict.

“I know this was something was certainly a topic of conversation the last session or two and the Legislature has passed on adopting regulations,” Giles said. “So there’s not an existing state regulation that arguably would preempt cities.”

Depending on the opinion issued by Attorney General Mark Brnovich, all local regulations of vaping products, such as the ordinance adopted Monday in Mesa, could be rendered moot.

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