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E-cigarette ban goes into effect in Washtenaw County

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The use of e-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine devices is no longer allowed in indoor public places in Washtenaw County.

That includes stores, reception areas, public transportation and other places that are already smoke-free.

Last March, commissioners voted to add electronic nicotine devices to the county's Clean Indoor Air Regulation and extend the regulation to county parks.

The changes take effect today.  

Susan Cerniglia with Washtenaw County Public Health said the ban is to help ensure the air in shared spaces is clean.

"There's no set standard for what is or isn't used in [electronic nictone devices] at this point," she said. "We can't really be confident about what folks may be inhaling."

Cerniglia said the county will enforce the ban through education for first time violations, while subsequent violations will be subject to fines.

Jim Bergman with the Smoke Free Environments Law Project in Ann Arbor worked with the county on the updates to its smoking regulation.

He said it's time to start treating the devices like regular cigarettes.

"It's not a matter of 'people cannot smoke electronic cigarettes.'" he said. "They simply are not allowed to smoke them in areas where they affect other people who are not smoking them."

Washtenaw is the first county in Michigan to add electronic nicotine devices to its smoking regulation.

The ban doesn't affect restaurants and bars which are governed under the state's Smoke-Free Air Law.

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