ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — While the city of Round Rock bans smoking in restaurants, the city still allows smoking in bars, which the American Heart Association isn’t happy about. A few weeks ago, members from the American Heart Association addressed city council asking for an entire ban on smoking in public places.
The council said they needed time to consider that request. Members did, however, agree to vote on banning vaping in public places at their meeting this Thursday. A spokesperson says council members believe if smoking is mostly banned, the use of e-cigarettes should also be banned in public places.
“If you’re sitting next to somebody who’s vaping, it sure feels like they’re still smoking, and you’re breathing in stuff that they’re breathing out that you’re not sure what they’re breathing in.” explains Will Hampton, communications director for Round Rock.
But e-cigarette users believe vaping is a better option.
“It’s a healthier alternative to smoking,” says Ryan Stone, who swapped cigarettes for vaping three years ago.
“At my worst, I was smoking three packs a day and I just kind of quit overnight once I started vaping,” explains Stone.
Stone now helps run Drip-n-Rip Vapes in Round Rock, where he may soon be forced to do most of his vaping, if council approves the ban.
“Places that have been smoke-free for over a decade in Round Rock… when people start to vape, it just doesn’t seem right, because it does feel like smoke,” continues Hampton.
However Stone says he doesn’t see people complaining.
“We have a couple restaurants we’ll visit that allow vaping inside, here in Round Rock, and nobody has ever had a problem with it. As soon as someone approaches me and says ‘hey do you mind,’ no I don’t mind stopping and putting it away,” says Stone.
The council is expected to take a final vote at their Sept. 8 meeting.
Two other Central Texas cities have electronic cigarette bans. The city of Georgetown banned the devices in 2014. San Marcos also banned e-cigarettes the same year.
New regulations went into effect earlier this month aimed at making it harder for teenagers nationwide to get their hands on electronic smoking devices.
The FDA rules state retailers must treat e-cigarettes as tobacco, meaning they cannot be sold to people under 18 years old. It also says shops cannot make or sell juices or help customers assemble their devices, or give away free samples. In addition, all products sold in stores have to be pre-ordered and undergo a lengthy application process.