Business owners speak out on proposed Abilene e-cigarette ban

Business owners react to proposed Abilene E-Cig ban

ABILENE, Texas - Since the city announced a possible ban on e-cigarettes Monday, Abilene business owners who sell the smoking alternative definitely aren't shy about sharing their opinions about the issue.

William Hopkins, manager of Stogies Vapor, said that most people are for the ban because they are just uninformed about what e-cigarettes actually are.

E-cigarettes are made up of 4 ingredients, propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin nicotine, and FDA approved flavorings.

The nicotine is optional and consumers can choose from 0, 6, 12, 18, and 24 milligrams. As for flavorings, Stogies Vapor offers 200 different ones ranging from Skittles to coffee.

Hopkins said that between two locations, they have between 15 and 20 customers daily. He said their customers range from people trying to quit smoking, to diabetics with a sweet tooth and people with social anxiety who want something to hold in their hand.

Hopkins said the proposed ban will greatly affect the health of their customers because they might be tempted to go back to smoking if they are required to smoke e-cigarettes outside.

"And when the legislation is the same as cigarettes, people who don't know will automatically assume that they're the same risk and the same dangers," Hopkins said. "So someone is more likely to stay with smoking cigarettes and that's a huge detriment to their health."

According to the proposed ban, individuals under the age of 18 would not be allowed to purchase e-cigarettes. But Hopkins said this is not an issue for Stogies.

"We're not trying to start up new habits for younger people, most of our customer basis is actually between 30 to 40 years old and above and they're looking to quit a far more dangerous habit," Hopkins said.

Mezamiz Coffee House owner Nancy Deegan is worried about losing customers because of the possible ban. She allows e-cigarettes inside her business, and she says she hasn't received any complaints because of it.

At its meeting Thursday, the Abilene City Council will consider setting a public hearing for July 24 to discuss adding e-cigarettes to the city's current smoking ban.

If passed, e-cigarettes couldn't be smoked in any of the public places traditional cigarettes aren't allowed, which includes elevators, public restrooms and common use areas, retail stores, malls, and restaurants, bars, indoor sports arenas, inside health facilities, office buildings and places of employment, and public outdoor events.

Additionally, the amendment to the ordinance would prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes and related products to minors under the age of 18.

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