The Grant County Health District passed an ordinance that regulates the sale, distribution, and use of electronic cigarettes. That means starting January 1, 2015, people will no longer be able to smoke e-cigarettes indoors or any other place where regular cigarettes are banned in Grant County.
In Spokane County there is currently no ordinance that bans e-cigarettes. When the Indoor Clean Air Act or what is now known as the Smoking in Public Places Law was put in place in 2005, e-cigarettes were not around. Therefore, right now in Spokane, they are not included in the indoor smoking ban.
Each year though, as the popularity of e-cigarettes increases, businesses have to deal with the issue of whether or not to let people smoke inside.
“Inside restaurants, everywhere, I smoke it, I like it very much,” said e-cigarette user Saad Aldossry.
“I think I've actually seen it a time or two in movie theaters, which doesn't bother me, like I said there's no discernable aroma that I can see,” said Mike Wolfe who is a non-smoker.
“For myself, it's not a big deal,” said Emily Lemcke who works at Manito Tap House. “But, at the same time it's people's right to choose their environment and if you don't like cigarette smoke in your face, why would you want water vapor cigarette smoke in your face?”
E-cigarettes are not lit and nothing is burning, so it does not fall into the category of banned smoking equipment.
Many say the vapor emitted does not bother them because it does not have much of an odor, but others worry there could be negative effects from breathing in the vapor. According to the Spokane Regional Health District, there is not enough research to know what effect e-cigarettes could have on either the smoker or anyone nearby.
However, still some business, like Manito Tap House, are asking e-cigarette users to step outside just like other smokers.
“We decided that it's something we're not going to allow,” Lemcke said. “We're a family friendly restaurant, so we're really doing our best to create a neighborhood atmosphere and we're also a non smoking employer, so it's just not something that's in our culture as a restaurant.”
A few other businesses have also banned e-cigarettes indoors, including the Spokane County Courthouse Campus, Travis Pattern and Foundry, Spokane Transit Authority, and the Riverpoint Campus.
Right now, Spokane is looking into drafting an ordinance that would add e-cigarettes to the indoor smoking ban.