DOVER, Del. (WBOC) - Delaware lawmakers are considering banning people from using e-cigarettes in indoor public places across the state. A bill to do that was filed in Dover Tuesday.
The bill adds e-cigarettes to the part of state law originally created in the 2002 Clean Indoor Air Act. At the time, Delaware was the just the second state to enact an indoor smoking ban. Now, it could be the fourth state to include e-cigs in the ban.
E-cigarettes have skyrocketed in popularity recently nationwide. As their popularity has grown, so has the pushback against their public use.
Bethany Beach is preparing to ban them on public beaches, parks and the boardwalk. If the bill state lawmakers are now considering passes, using e-cigs would be banned all over Delaware in places like restaurants, bars and many, many other public indoor places.
The bill's sponsor calls this a health issue. She is worried about the contents of the vapor e-cigs emit.
"We didn't know for a long time how cigarettes affected people - second-hand smoke. I think it's prudent to be on the safe side now," said Rep. Debra Heffernan, D-Bellefonte.
Helena Andell's store in Rehoboth sells e-cigs. Andell says she wouldn't mind people using e-cigs near her in a place like a bar or restaurant.
"It would not bother me at all," she said. "That's not because I'm a smoker. It's because there's no smell. There's no nothing. They should be allowed."
When the original Clean Indoor Air Act was under debate, a lot of restaurant and bar owners were against it.
The Delaware Restaurant Association came out in support of this bill.
"Since the original law was passed over a decade ago in 2002, Delaware's restaurant and bar community, its employees and patrons have grown accustomed to the law which bans smoking in indoor places," Carrie Leishman, the DRA's president and CEO, said in a statement.
Leishman also says passing the bill will make things clearer for its membership. She says some have said they've been unsure how to handle e-cigs in their establishments.
Earlier this year the state House of Representatives passed a bill banning minors from buying e-cigs. It's now awaiting action in the Senate.
Last week, at the national level, the FDA outlined significant plans to regulate e-cigs.