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E-Cigarette ordinance passes in Orange Park

11:14 PM, Dec 3, 2013   |    comments
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By Christopher Furlong, Getty Images This photo illustration shows an electronic cigarette, a battery-operated device.

ORANGE PARK, Fla. -- The Orange Park City Council votes 5-0 to pass the e-cigarette ordinance.

The ordinance will ban the sale of e-cigarettes to people younger than 18, restrict e-cigarette use to areas where tobacco smoking is allowed, and specify how those products are displayed.

"I don't believe that forcing people to share the same areas as smokers who are trying to quit smoking is a good idea," said Christopher Johnston.

Johnston is a big advocate for electronic cigarettes. He says he started smoking when he was 16 and the only thing that could get him off cigarettes was the e-cigarette.

"It's the greatest thing that's come around," said Johnston.

So great that Johnston has e-cigarette stores in Columbus, Georgia and Alabama and one soon to be opened on Blanding Blvd in Orange Park. He says he already only sells to customers over 18 years of age and he already keeps his merchandise behind the counter, but the ordinance also restricts e-cigarette users to smoke only in areas other smokers can.

"We're treating this like a cigarette, 'you can't be anywhere around us cause you are bad', that's what this ordinance is showing that," added Johnston.

Electronic cigarettes do not contain tobacco, but heat a liquid that can contain nicotine or flavored vapor inhaled by the user. Those in opposition to the e-cigarette have argued that there haven't been enough studies to prove it is in fact safe and that there are no harmful long time side effects. Supporters disagree.

"I don't think you should complain because you don't understand something. I think you should make the time to learn about it," said Brett Labo.

Clay County passed a similar ordinance back in May that does not apply to municipalities. Anyone who violates the Orange Park ordinance can be fined $100 for the first offense and up to $500 for repeated offenses.

No criminal penalties are attached for individuals who break the ordinance, however, a misdemeanor offense will apply to vendors.

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