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Lake County bans e-cigarettes in public buildings

POLSON — Lake County is the sixth county in the state to ban the use of electronic cigarettes in public places.

It is now unlawful to smoke e-cigarettes in a place of work or an enclosed public space or within 25 feet of such a building. 

Lake County Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution to that effect on Tuesday, Jan. 17. 

Lynette Duford, the county’s tobacco prevention coordinator, had urged the commissioners to approve the measure and notes that no one opposed it during a public hearing. 

She said that e-cigarettes can be safe but most are not, adding that it’s nearly impossible for the average person to tell. 

Most e-cigarettes either contain nicotine or an unsafe chemical, she said. E-cigarettes typically use an aerosol and not a vapor, she said, and added that a safe e-cigarette liquid is sold but it’s not popular. 

Duford said the Montana Tobacco Use Prevention Program attempted unsuccessfully to get the state Legislature to adopt an e-cigarette ban in 2017 as part of the Montana Clean Indoor Air Act that was passed in 2005, so the next step was to get individual counties to approve it. 

Lewis and Clark County was the first in the state to ban e-cigarettes, Duford said. Carbon, Powell, Sanders and Granite counties came next, according to the Billings Gazette. 

Commissioner Bill Barron noted that Lewis and Clark County’s ban has been challenged in district court and upheld. 

“It’s becoming more of an issue,” he said last week. “I’ve had business owners have problems in their restaurants and the owner didn’t know if he had the authority” to ban them. Business owners could legally ban e-cigarettes previously but the county commissioners’ action “kind of takes the monkey off their back,” he said. 

“It’s a lot more comfortable for the business owner to say it’s a county ordinance” when telling customers they can’t use e-cigarettes, Duford said. 

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