Aiken City Council considering removing ban on e-cigs in enclosed public places

AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) – Aiken business owners could soon decide whether customers can vape or smoke electronic cigarettes in their stores.

An ordinance passed in April made it illegal to smoke e-cigs in public places – such as city parks, restaurants and bars.

An Aiken vape shop owner felt is wasn’t right for the city to make that decision, so he asked council to reconsider.

“The fact is that we made a mistake,” Aiken City Councilman Dick Dewar told WJBF NewsChannel 6.

Aiken City parks may be tobacco free, but the wording of an ordinance also banned people from using e-cigs or vaping anywhere else.

“Most of council members did not realize that in approving the ordinance, to eliminate the use of the e-cigarettes or vapor cigarettes in city parks, that we had inadvertently prohibited them from enclosed spaces.” Dewar said.

VaporTek USA owner John Boynton wants his customers to be allowed to use the products they buy at his store, in his store.

However, right now the city code doesn’t allow that.

That’s why he went to city leaders to request that they clear the hazy cloud around using e-cigs or vapes in enclosed public places.

“I was just a bit concerned as a business owner that the City of Aiken was going to tell me as a vape shop owner, that I could not allow that my customers to vape in my store and I felt that the ordinance was a bit broad,” Boynton told WJBF NewsChannel 6.

Boynton says he agrees with the city’s move to ban e-cigs and vapes in public parks.

While the current ordinance doesn’t hinder his sales, for him it’s about letting the business owner decide their own practices.

“Probably 99 percent of businesses around Aiken are not going to allow smoking or vaping,” said Boynton. “I felt like as a business owner, within the City of Aiken, that I should be able to make the decision.”

If passed, the ordinance would remove e-cigs from the banned list.

That means business owner will have the final say as to whether or not people can smoke e-cigs or vape in their establishments.

However, it’s illegal to use them in all city-owned parks.

Council will be voting on the ordinance at Monday night’s meeting.

Count on WJBF NewsChannel 6 to bring you the latest on this developing story. 

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