ABILENE, Texas - Abilene City Council voted Thursday morning to prohibit the sale, use and possession of e-cigarettes to minors.
Council members, however, decided not to take any action on the proposition to add the general use of e-cigarettes to the city's current smoking ban. That decision allows adults to continue using e-cigarettes in public places without limitations.
The decision to not vote on the proposed e-cigarette smoking ban came after two hours of discussion in a public hearing. Twenty individuals came forward to share their opinion on the matter with council.
William Hopkins was one of those individuals who came forward.
"I fear that the very thing you are trying to protect which is public health is what you are going to end up hurting," Hopkins said. "The reason for this is once you lump in cigarettes and electronic cigarettes together you are telling people they're the same thing and they represent the same dangers, and that is not true."
Councilman Jay Hardaway was the first to suggest council vote only on the prohibition to minors component of the ordinance.
"I suggest to the council that perhaps we alter the language as such to pass the age restriction and hold off on the public restriction." Hardaway said.
Several council members voiced their support to Hardaway's proposal.
Councilman Joe Spano supported the move, but also asked that individuals who use e-cigarettes to be respectful of the fact that it may bother others and to distance themselves from non-users when asked to do so.
The council's decision to add the sale, use, and possession of e-cigarettes to minors was met with no opposition by council or the public audience at Thursday's meeting.
"I am absolutely ecstatic with the ruling today. All of us that work in the e-cig industry already agreed that we did not want to sell to minors," said Michael McGough, manager at an Abilene store that supplies e-cigarettes. "Our store already has a policy of not selling to minors, which is what they enacted today and left it up to businesses, which is what we wanted."
The modification to the current smoking ban ordinance will be posted Sunday and take effect 10 days later on Aug. 5.