TRAVERSE CITY — A plan to ban electronic cigarettes from the Grand Traverse County Civic Center grounds went up in smoke.
Grand Traverse County Parks and Recreation commissioners voted 5 to 4 against implementing the ban at a meeting Thursday night.
“I don’t believe that it’s an appropriate place for local government to step in,” said parks board President Alisa Kroupa. “The federal government and state government haven’t weighed in on this yet and it isn’t the place of county Parks and Rec Board to weigh in.”
The vote came as a surprise to some after parks board members previously voted 7-2 to encourage the county prosecutor to come up with ban language.
“I’m very disappointed,” said Lisa Danto, the coordinator for the Traverse Bay Area Tobacco Coalition who supported the ban. “I’m not sure what happened.”
Commissioner David Grams raised the issue up at a meeting in April and expressed concern about e-cigarettes luring children and teens to smoking behavior, as well as the smoking device’s ability to help people consume liquid THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana.
Grams was not at the Thursday meeting, but sent the commission a letter of support for the ban. His vote would not have been enough to pass the measure, which required six votes.
Commissioners John Roth, Kevin McElyea and William Mouser switched their votes from the prior month.
Mouser and Roth both said they thought state legislation soon effectively would ban those under 18 from using e-cigarettes and take care of the issue for them. They both said that if the state failed to impose some sort of ban, they would take another look at the issue.
McElyea said his vote was based on an informal online Record-Eagle poll of more than 500 people in which about 62 percent said they did not support banning e-cigarettes in county parks.
The county already bans smoking and tobacco on the Civic Center grounds.