Rapid City Civic Center takes aim at e-cigarettes
RAPID CITY (AP) — The Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in Rapid City wants to snuff out electronic cigarettes, but one seller of the cigarette substitute says the proposal goes too far.
E-cigarette inhalers are an odorless, vapor-emitting substitute for tobacco cigarettes. They are not included in South Dakota's smoking ban, but civic center officials have asked the city attorney's office to ban them at the facility anyway. Their use would be banned inside the center and restricted outdoors to areas at least 30 feet away from entrances.
It is difficult for center staff to distinguish whether event patrons are smoking e-cigarettes or real cigarettes, General Manager Brian Maliske told the Rapid City Journal.
"They look the same," he said. "It's just not realistic."
Assistant City Attorney Ryan Soye said he is studying the center's request and expects to make a recommendation soon.
Robyn Bondeson, who owns a business that sells e-cigarettes, said she understands banning their use in the civic center audience but not in other indoor areas away from crowds.
"To prevent me from being able to do that is ludicrous," she said. "To marginalize me to the outdoors is ridiculous. There's just no justification to it. Most people who vape that I know are very conscious and try to be inconspicuous when they are using their products."
The federal government does not yet regulate e-cigarettes, though several states have expanded indoor smoking bans to include them. Advocates of e-cigarettes say they can help smokers quit tobacco, but some health advocates believe the inhalers can get people hooked on nicotine just like cigarettes.