TRAVERSE CITY — An electronic cigarette ban at the Grand Traverse County Civic Center is before parks and recreation commissioners for a vote Thursday night.
Opponents said not enough research exists to justify a ban on electronic cigarettes, and county officials need to butt out on the issue — at least for now.
"I just don’t think the science or the documentation is there to restrict people and their activities," said Peter Doren, vice president of the parks commission. "There is with smoking cigarettes and it may be there someday on the electronic cigarettes, but I just don’t see it yet."
But proponents said smoking bans — like the one already in place at the Civic Center — are intended to cover devices like electronic cigarettes, but such devices did not exist when most smoking bans were written.
"That’s public space where a lot of children are," said Lisa Danto, coordinator for the Traverse Bay Area Tobacco Coalition. "We want to be role models and also protect everyone because of the possible toxic exposure.”
Commissioner David Grams raised the issue to the parks board during a meeting in April. He said e-cigarettes compel some youths to smoke who otherwise would not by “normalizing the activity," and said some individuals use e-cigarettes to consume liquid THC — the psychoactive component in marijuana.
Seven parks board members voted last month to ask county attorneys to draft e-cigarette ban language.
Parks board President Alisa Kroupa, who is also running for the county commission, voted against that motion.
Kroupa said she hopes the electronic-cigarette ban fails.
"Right now the federal government has not ruled on e-cigarettes, the state has not ruled on e-cigarettes, so I don't think it's a place for county parks to be stepping in," she said.
Kroupa said she's heard from many community members who agree with her position.
Danto said the same thing about her support of the ban.
"It’s better for tourism and the public wants this," Danto said. "I’m getting calls all the time lately about this type of thing. I've been very busy.”
The parks board will meet at 6 p.m. at the Governmental Center.