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May 15, 2014

E-cigarette ban before GT County parks board

TRAVERSE CITY — County officials could snuff electronic cigarettes from the Civic Center grounds, a move that ban proponents said could protect children from being wooed by a nicotine-delivery product that’s lately gained favor among many young people.

But not everyone supports a ban, said opponents who voiced concern about government overreach. The Grand Traverse County Parks and Recreation Commission will consider banning battery-operated e-cigarettes from the Civic Center park during a meeting tonight.

Commissioner David Grams raised the issue to the parks board during a meeting last month. Grams said e-cigarettes are becoming popular among teens and compel some youths to smoke who otherwise would not by “normalizing the activity.”

“I wouldn’t feel comfortable with my 8-year-old daughter running around and having teens sitting around with these because I wouldn’t want her normalized to this kind of behavior,” he said during the April 10 meeting.

Grams also said some individuals use e-cigarettes to consume liquid THC — the psychoactive component in marijuana.

Parks board President Alisa Kroupa opposes banning e-cigarettes at the Civic Center property. She said most county residents she’s talked to agree.

“This is a very rough estimate, but I would say about two-thirds of them are against the ban,” Kroupa said. “Most people are using the term ‘nanny state’ or saying ‘What are they going to ban next, soda?’”

County park rules prohibit regular smoking only at the Civic Center park and the Keystone Soccer Complex.

Parks and Recreation Director Jason Jones said commissioners should take their time before they decide whether to ban e-cigarettes at the park, as the issue is relatively new in Michigan.

“We realize we will be one of the first public organizations, as far as I understand, to take action on this issue,” he said.

Jones added he’ll recommend commissioners refrain from acting on the e-cigarette ban until after officials from the county Prosecutor’s Office propose language for a new rule.

Such language likely would ban only the use of e-cigarettes, not the possession of the devices, according to county documents.

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