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County To Hold Public Hearing On Indoor Vaping Ban

The Allegheny County Health Department is seeking public input on a proposed rule that would ban e-cigarettes and vaping from many indoor spaces. A public hearing on the proposal is scheduled for Monday at 1 p.m.

The ban would apply to places where smoking is also currently prohibited under the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act.

This includes schools, hospitals, restaurants, public transportation, sports facilities and theaters.

Exemptions would apply to those places also exempt under state law, such as casinos, private clubs, tobacco shops and some bars.

The county board of health in May instructed the department to draft the proposed rule.

Board of Health member and University of Pittsburgh Public Health Dean Don Burke voted for the measure, but played devil’s advocate, saying some argue that e-cigarettes are a safer alternative for people who want to quit smoking.

“So that they don’t have all of the tobacco burning products that are carcinogenic, so there’s less health risk from the e-cigarettes.”

According to the American Lung Association, many e-cigarettes still contain carcinogens, though ingredients vary widely between brands.

“There’s no regulation and no oversight of these products at this time, so it’s really hard to make generalizations of what is in an e-cigarette,” said Megan Tullikangas, University of Pittsburgh health policy researcher.

Proposed fines for violating the ban range from $30-300 for a first offense and $500-1,000 for each subsequent offense.

The public hearing will take place in the Gold Room of the Allegheny County Courthouse at 436 Grant Street in downtown Pittsburgh.