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County adds E-cigs to ordinance on 3-2 vote

On a 3-2 vote, the McLeod County Board of Commissioners approved revisions to its county tobacco-free workplace ordinance to include e-cigarettes on Tuesday evening, Dec. 2.
Jean Johnson, public health educator, approached the County Board once again, urging it to approve the revisions. She shared an editorial published in the Hutchinson Leader, and written by Dr. Steven Mulder from Hutchinson Health, who requested that the Board support the changes due to “emerging scientific data” that is “creating great uncertainty regarding the safety” of e-cigarettes.
Johnson said the job of the Board is to safeguard the health of the public.
“You hired us to research the issues and make recommendations. Public health protects the greater good,” she said.
She listed statistics on e-cigarettes and their uses, and also commented on their appeal to the youth.
“Twenty-eight percent of high school students have tried an e-cigarette. And ‘big tobacco’ is picking up on that … I’m asking that the Board approves the revisions to the workplace ordinance to include e-cigarettes for the health, safety and welfare of the public,” Johnson said.
Commissioner Jon Christensen expressed concern about passing the ordinance, and felt businesses should be able to have the choice whether or not to ban e-cigarettes.
“Individual businesses ban guns on their premises. Can’t they ban e-cigarettes?”
“Your role as a Board is to protect the public, not just individuals, so everyone receives benefits. This ordinance does not necessarily help individuals, but helps the broader public,” Johnson said.

For more, see the Dec. 10 print edition of The Chronicle.