Tahlequah, OK steps away from e-cigarette ban, OK Advocates of ‘Vaping’ cheer

OKLAHOMA CITY – The city of Tahlequah is stepping back from a proposed ban on use of electronic smoking devices on public property. 

Tahlequah Mayor Jason Nichols has pulled a proposed ordinance from next week’s City Council agenda. 

The news came after a prominent policy analyst in Oklahoma City added his voice to the drumbeat of criticism the idea drew over the last two weeks.

Sean Gore of Oklahoma Vapor Advocacy League (OVAL) said Mayor Nichols told him Thursday the “vaping” ban ordinance first discussed at the Nov. 4 city council meeting has been removed from the agenda. City clerk Deb Corn told CapitolBeatOK the item was stricken at the mayor’s request. 

The measure was slated for the agenda a special Nov. 18 session of the council, but Gore says it’s off the table now. In a meeting with Republican party activists on Veterans Day, Mayor Nichols said he would oppose the measure, draft Ordinance No. 1213-2013, if it including the ban.

The Cherokee County Communities of Excellence Tobacco Control program has sought to wrap e-cigarettes in with tobacco. The Tahlequah Daily Press reported the program’s leaders said at the Nov. 4 meeting they advanced that approach with the encouragement of the state Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET). A TSET grant program has in recent months incentivized local governments to ban e-cigarettes, which do not include tobacco (but sometimes include nicotine), from public settings. 

In an interview, Gore told Oklahoma Watchdog, “This means that right now there is no pending ordinance against vaping in that particular city. It could also very well mean that those that wish to ban vaping are regrouping after coming up against a large amount of opposition they did not expect.”

Gore and other defenders of the adult use of “vapes” had suggested a limited ordinance aimed only at banning he sale of e-cigarettes and similar devices to minors. 

For now, the entire issue of a ban on the devices is off the table in the eastern Oklahoma community.

Earlier this week, TSET’s role in advancing local ordinances came under criticism from Jonathan Small, a vice president at the conservative Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. 

You may contact Pat at Patrick@capitolbeatok.com