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April 06, 2014FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Forsyth County wants to strengthen its law when it comes to electronic cigarettes, aligning it with tobacco products.
The devices, which are called e-cigs, or vaporizers, emit water vapor instead of smoke. These e-cigarettes have become more popular as traditional tobacco is banned or restricted increasingly at public places.
But local ordinances have not kept up with the new trend in smokeless cigarettes.
"We have limited regulation in the county as far as e-cigarettes," Forsyth County Attorney Ken Jarrard said.
Forsyth County Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills said something must be done.
Mills said that a constituent contacted her about someone smoking the vapor emitting device in a library.
It's currently not allowed to smoke electronic cigarettes at the library and traditional smoking is banned within 25 feet of the entrance to a government building.
"You're not outlawing it, you are saying go smoke where everyone else is smoking," Mills said.
The proposed ordinance could cover county buildings, but not school buildings. However, there's interest in enacting a similar ban at county schools, Mills said.
Commission Chairman R.J. "Pete" Amos said he supports a broader ban of e-cigarettes at all government buildings.
"We don't want you to do it inside a building, we want you to go to a designated area," Amos said.
County Attorney Jarrard said the parks do ban tobacco, but a new ordinance could cover the electronic devices.
Jarrard said that it's unknown whether second hand smoke from e-cigs or the vapor liquids are harmful to humans.
"There are a lot of unknowns," Jarrard said. "It's unclear when or whether the FDA(Food and Drug Administration) will regulate."
The recent legislative session produced House Bill 251, which if it becomes law, would extend the prohibition against minors selling, purchasing or possessing cigarettes to include e-cigarettes or vapor devices.
"We feel comfortable that Gov. Deal will allow that to become law and that give some prohibition," Jarrard said.
In addition to tobacco, Jarrard said the devices can also be used to consume illegal drugs.
"It's becoming another drug delivery device," Jarrard said "These are mechanism for cannabis oil."
Read House Bill 251