HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- People who smoke electronic cigarettes may want to start paying attention to where they light up.
Because there are so few studies on the effects of e-cigs, some counties are saying you cannot use them in public places.
The Cabell-Huntington Health Department added regulations regarding e-cigs last year, treating them exactly like real cigarettes.
“They’re considered a tobacco product by the EPA,” Dr. Harry Tweel says. “Even State Bill 4237 last year declared them to be a tobacco-derived product, so indeed they are considered a cigarette.”
WSAZ.com spoke with multiple restaurant owners in Huntington. None of them was aware of the regulations.
Some of the restaurants did not allow the use of e-cigs anyway, but managers at others say they see people use them frequently and didn’t think anything about it unless a customer complained.
“Business owners are confused because the industry is hyping that they are not cigarettes and not a tobacco product,” Tweel said. “Unfortunately that is not the case, and yes there is confusion, and I hope this will satisfy that yes it is a tobacco product, yes it does fall under the code.”
According to Tweel, using an e-cig in Cabell County is the same as smoking a regular cigarette, so they do not work as an alternative in a place you can’t already smoke.
In Putnam and Kanawha counties, there are no regulations on electronic cigarettes. The use of them is left up to individual business owners.
WSAZ.com asked people in Cabell County what they thought about the regulations, and we got mixed reviews.
One man said people use electronic cigarettes to quit smoking. He says with the amount of smokers in our area, instead of mandating e-cigs like real cigarettes that we should focus on helping people quit.
Another man said, despite being a smoker, he does not use e-cigs and understands why people eating in restaurants would be upset if someone starts using one.
There is a discussion WSAZ’s Facebook page, if you would like to weigh in.