E-cigarettes banned in county buildings

FONDA – Montgomery County is following in the footsteps of Albany County with its recent ban of e-cigarettes in county-owned buildings.

“The issue of e-cigarettes was brought up by a few department heads, and I decided to draft an executive order banning them from our buildings,” Montgomery County Executive Matt Ossenfort said. “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”

Ossenfort said he was influenced by Albany County Executive Dan McCoy who banned e-cigarettes from county buildings in February.

“There are a lot of unknowns with e-cigarettes and I don’t want to take a chance,” Ossenfort said. “This was an issue that we needed to address and it was a relatively easy decision for me to make.”

E-cigarettes, or electronic cigarettes, are battery-powered devices that heat liquid nicotine creating a vapor when used. The vapor resembles a cloud of smoke and contains nicotine, as well as irritants, genotoxins and animal carcinogens, the executive order states.

Unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration, e-cigarettes are currently being sold on the market to consumers of any age. Congress released a report Monday citing several concerns such as the lack of age restriction and unifrom warning labels on e-cigarettes.

Ossenfort’s order is now in effect and the use of e-cigarettes in county buildings is considered the same as regular cigarettes: the smoking of tobacco and e-cigarettes is only allowed at a distance of at least 20-feet from the entrance or door of any Montgomery County building or vehicle.

Ossenfort wouldn’t say if county employees were using e-cigarettes in county buildings prior to his executive order, however, he said he hasn’t received any negative backlash from his decision to ban them so far.

Ossenfort said he’s planning on discussing this matter in the future with the county Legislature to clarify the policy on smoking in and around county buildings.