The Houston Health Department is seeking approval from City Council to revise Chapter 21 Article IX Section 21-236 of the City of Houston Code of Ordinances to prohibit the use of electronic smoking devices (including electronic cigarettes, electronic cigars, electronic cigarillos, electronic pipes, electronic hookah, vaping device, or any other product that utilizes aerosol liquid or vapor) wherever smoking is currently banned.
City of Houston ordinances prohibit smoking in enclosed public places or workplaces, within 25 feet of a building entrance or exit doors, outdoor arenas and outdoor seating areas of public spectator events and covered bus stops and light rail stops.
Smoking is permitted in private residences as long as they are not used as a childcare, adult day care or health care facility. Smoking is permitted in retail tobacco stores.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, a known neurotoxin considered one of the most highly addictive substances available for public consumption, which can harm the developing adolescent brain (which keeps developing until about the age of 25), including long-lasting changes in brain regions involved in addiction, attention, learning, and memory.
While users inhale e-cigarette aerosol into their lungs, bystanders can also breathe in this aerosol when the user exhales it into the air.
The FDA has also raised concerns about the epidemic levels of youth use of e-cigarettes, which may lead to the use of conventional tobacco products like combustible cigarettes and has issued a policy prioritizing enforcement against certain unauthorized flavored e-cigarette products that appeal to kids.
Stephen L. Williams, M.Ed., M.P.A.
Director - Houston Health Department