Kids who’ve been using electronic cigarettes in Aberdeen and other parts of the state may have to change that behavior.
Aberdeen City Council members passed an ordinance Monday that would ban anyone less than 18 years old from having e-cigarettes. It’s similar to a bill that passed in a committee in Pierre Monday as well. If that bill becomes law, you'd have to be 18 to buy one of the battery-powered devices in South Dakota.
Aberdeen council members also discussed whether adults should be able to use e-cigarettes in public places. The proposed ordinance before them had a section banning the use of e-cigarettes in buildings open to the public, treating them like regular cigarettes.
Aberdeen City Attorney Adam Altman says people have asked him if e-cigarettes should be allowed, so he wanted to pass the question on to council members. He says he doesn’t take a position himself.
"Currently there is no regulation on adults using them in public places or places of employment. I throw it out there without recommendation whatsoever," Altman said.
Council members’ answers came quickly. If there comes a time to regulate adult use of e-cigarettes, it's not now. Mark Remily even demonstrated during the meeting how one works.
"These are harmless to anyone. It's just a vapor, no smoke to it at all," Remily said.
"I know there are certain studies I was reading about at the federal government level of whether or not the FDA may be taking some action," Clint Rux said.
At this point council members say it's too early to ban them from buildings. They voted to remove that section of the proposed ordinance.
The remaining portion passed. That prohibits kids from having e-cigarettes. Altman said some in the juvenile justice system requested the law.
"Let's go ahead and keep this out of their hands with the hopes that they won't move up to real cigarettes," Jennifer Slaight-Hansen said.
Mayor Mike Levsen questions whether law enforcement would consider the law a high enough priority to put much effort into enforcing it. Other council members say retailers, for the most part, already aren't selling e-cigarettes to underage teenagers.
Still, they all voted for the ordinance. It will need to pass another vote before becoming law. None of the council members spoke in support of the section that was removed.