Mansfield considers crackdown on electronic cigarettes

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by MONIKA DIAZ

WFAA

Posted on October 15, 2013 at 10:53 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 15 at 11:00 PM

MANSFIELD — Mansfield is the first city in North Texas to target electronic cigarettes.

The City Council voted 5-0 to put a hold on all permits for electronic cigarette shops for six months. During that time, staff members will look at the issue and consider where e-cigarettes fit into the city's smoking ordinance.

Some businesses — including Starbucks — are already banning use of the product.

Walk into Vicious Vapors in Mansfield, and you will find ex-smokers puffing on their e-cigarettes.

"I feel like this thing is saving my life," said federal government accountant Bryan Heftler. "My wife is a lot happier that I'm not smoking cigarettes. I don't smell like a stinky cigarette when I get home."

Heftler said he smokes at work, and pretty much everywhere he goes.

"Airports, restaurants, department stores, and — of course — home, because my wife allows it," he said.

Electronic cigarettes are battery-powered devices with a liquid nicotine solution that creates a vapor when heated.

"It kind of spread like wildfire," said Vicious Vapors co-owner Toby Gooch.

E-cigs are popular, but now cities are trying to determine how — or if — their use requires regulation.

On Monday night, Mansfield's City Council approved a 180-day moratorium on all new permits for businesses selling these products.

Gooch was at that meeting. "I think that every business should have the opportunity to come up with whether they want to allow them or not," he said. "If the city chooses to make an ordinance on that, I would think that would be fine, too."

We found some businesses already banning use of the devices. An In-N-Out restaurant in Mansfield posted their policy on the front door: "SMOKING IS PROHIBITED (including E-cigarettes)."

"I use it everywhere — even in places it says not to," said e-cig user Tiffany Pearson. "In my opinion, if it's not hurting my kids, no one else is being harmed by it, either."

Electronic cigarettes do have their critics, and the product is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.

Forty attorneys general across the U.S. — not including Texas — have asked the FDA to step in to do more e-cig research and to set rules, including sales to minors.

Mansfield's staff will make recommendations nod then take them to the City Council for a vote.

E-mail mdiaz@wfaa.com

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