Oklahomans Respond To Gov. Fallin's E-Cig Ban On State Property

Lisa Monahan, News 9

Governor Mary Fallin signed an executive order restricting the use of all vaporizing devices. The Governor claims the e-cigarette industry is unregulated and could pose health risks to Oklahomans.

The Vapor industry disagrees and claims this move could have several e-cigarette users resort back to smoking tobacco.

12/23/2013 Related Story: Oklahoma Governor Signs E-Cigarette Ban On State Property

"I had a half pack left and I never looked back," Sean Gore said.

Gore quit smoking two years ago and credits the vapor devices with helping him break the habit. Gore feels so strongly about the product he is now serving as the chairman of the Oklahoma Vapor Advocacy League.

"This is an abuse of power by the governor," Gore said.

Gore claims Governor Mary Fallin's executive order to ban e-cigarettes and vapor devices on state property is more about politics than the health of Oklahomans.

"They want to demonize e-cigarettes based on the persona that it looks like smoking when actually it is not. They are trying to get these things taxed," Gore said.

Oklahoma's Commissioner of Health, Dr. Terry Cline, argues the long term health impact is unknown.

"We would like to see these products researched and regulates so Oklahomans know what they are getting by using that product," Dr. Cline said.

Cline explained the devices could be harmful to bystanders.

"The nicotine in second hand exposure to vaping is equivalent to second hand nicotine exposure of cigarettes," Cline said.

Kelly Eveleigh, owner of Royal Vapor in Bethany, which is one of several shops in the increasingly popular e-cigarette industry, is frustrated by the ban.

"My attitude is it very unfortunate that an elected official chooses to beguiled by the big tobacco lobbyist rather than the public interest," Eveleigh said.

Gore also pointed out there are numerous studies that have revealed the product's safety. He and advocates like himself have been working with lawmakers to regulate the industry. He says the governor has been misinformed.

"We've been searching for 50 years for something that can effectively help people move away from the harmful effects of tobaccos and now that we have found that they want to punish us for it," Gore said.

The e-cigarette ban goes into effect on January 1 on state property. An exception to the rule, Veterans Affairs housing will allow the e-cigarettes in certain sections.

Michael McNutt, press secretary for governor Fallin's office, released the following statement,

The executive order on e-cigarettes mirrors the state's plan to accommodate those veterans at the state's seven centers who choose to smoke. An agreement reached earlier this year allows residents of veterans centers who currently smoke to do so until Jan. 1, 2015, when indoor smoking will end. After Jan. 1, 2015, smoking will be allowed only in designated areas outside the building. All the veterans centers will be smoke free by Jan. 1, 2018.