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Electronic cigarettes, hookahs added to smoking ban ordinance by Louisville Metro Council

Electronic cigarettes and hookahs are now included in the smoking ban of Kentucky’s largest city. The Louisville Metro Council voted 15-6 to expand its anti-smoking ordinance.

“Neither e-cigs or hookah can be deemed safe or healthy for human consumption,” said Council Member Vicki Aubrey Welch, the legislation’s sponsor. Welch, a Democrat, said council members compromised with local business owners who were concerned “about the measure’s likelihood to reduce retail activity,” Jacob Ryan reports for WFPL.

“Consumers can still sample electronic cigarette flavors, under the measure, and certain hookah lounges will be exempt from the regulations,” Ryan reports.

Mayor Greg Fischer, a Democrat up for re-election next year, asked in February for the expansion of the ban enacted in 2008. Opposition was bipartisan.

Council Member Kevin Kramer, a Republican, “said he’s been provided with little evidence that hookah products are detrimental to users’ health,” Ryan reports. Council Member Mary Woolridge, a Democrat, “called the ordinance an overreach of government regulation.”

“I don’t know where all this concern is, when we have to breathe the air in West Louisville and Rubbertown,” Woolridge said, referring to chemical plants on the west side of the city. Neighboring Council Member Jessica Green, another Democrat, called the move a Fischer “publicity stunt.”

The move drew praise from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. “These products emit dangerous toxins into the air that are known to cause cancer and other debilitating illnesses,” said Ben Chandler, president and CEO of the foundation. “While the expanded ordinance includes some regrettable exemptions that will leave some Louisvillians unprotected, this is a step in the right direction toward cleaner air and reduced health disparities.”

From Kentucky Health News

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