Utah Passes Ban on Hookahs, E-cigarettes

Utah’s Senate passed the final approval on a ban of using hookahs and e-cigarettes in indoor public places. The bill, HB245, has so far exempted hookah bars and e-cigarette shops from the ban for the next five years, though, at which point Utah’s legislature will have to determine whether or not to expend this ban. HB245 passes with a 24-3 approval vote and has been sent to Gov. Gary Herbert for signing.

An act already in place in the state, Utah’s Indoor Clean Air Act, previously banned only the act of igniting tobacco. The difference with hookahs and e-cigarettes is that hookahs heat tobacco in pipes that pas through water, while e-cigarettes vaporize a liquid with nicotine. No tobacco ignition is involved, which meant Utah’s Legislature saw this as a big grey area.

The ban has caused quite the uproar as many prior cigarette smokers have turned to the e-cigarette as an alternative once cigarette smoking bans have gone into effect. Many politicians who have supported the ban of the e-cigarette claim that they are aiming to keep the public safe, as users of e-cigarettes simply don’t know how much they’re smoking and how much nicotine they are taking in.

On the other hand, those against the ban of e-cigarettes in Utah cite that the government is simply trying to control a new unknown, laying down their iron fist before people can get too excited about an alternative to cigarettes and cigarette smoke. They state that those who wish to ban e-cigarettes are merely reliant on information being published by groups with a bias toward the tobacco and pharmacological industries and who were, possibly, funded by those industries to produce biased information.

Indoor banning of safer cigarette alternatives is sure to stir quite a bit of controversy as it plays out and is challenged, which is sure to happen. After all, many smokers have already peaceably accepted the cigarette bans and found a more healthful option in their e-cigarettes. And when dealing with something such as this, one has to wonder – will the bans and legislation never end?

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