City Council pushes for ban on e-cigarette use in public places


Council members speak at Ames City Council meeting.

Christie Smith

Several ISU students attended a meeting of the Ames City Council Tuesday night to discuss regulations regarding electronic cigarettes and nicotine delivery systems.

Councilmembers voted 5-1 to direct the city attorney to draft an ordinance prohibiting the use of e-cigarettes in all public places and in some private areas, including all enclosed areas within places of employment.

The council voted to mimic the Smoke Free Air Act that is already in place statewide for other forms of tobacco use. Iowa lawmakers passed the Smokefree Air Act in the spring of 2008.

If the process continues successfully, the would of e-cigarettes would be restricted in the near future.

Darien Woods and Spencer Cain, seniors in kinesiology and health, with the ISU Health Promotion Club addressed the council on behalf of ISU students.

Woods and Cain said a survey conducted by the club determined that Ames residents were largely against the use of e-cigarettes in public spaces, with a majority of respondents reporting they would be less likely to patronize a business where e-cigarette use was allowed.

The survey helped motivate Iowa State and student government to take action on the issue, Woods said.

Iowa State has proposed to add “personal vaporizers” to their Smoke-Free Campus policy. The university’s proposal will ban the use of these vaporizers anywhere on campus and in any buildings or vehicles owned by the university, to include areas outside of entertainment and sports arenas.

The university’s proposal is expected to take place in January 2016. City Council considered Iowa State’s proposed policy as one of the options for the city to mirror.

Jordan Vanscoy, junior in kinesiology and health, told the council that the turnout of ISU students said something about their relationship with the community.

“[The students] here are not here just to prove a point that they can make a change, they’re truly here because this community means a lot to them,” Vanscoy said.

At-large Councilman Matthew Goodman said that, ultimately, he supports mirroring the Smokefree Air Act because prohibiting e-cigarettes where other forms of tobacco are already prohibited will be easy to implement.

Council members discussed exemptions for specific businesses, including e-cigarette stores and casinos. They agreed to let the Parks and Recreation Department decide whether or not e-cigarette use would be allowed at outdoor parks.

Council members also discussed current and proposed developments at the meeting.

They voted 6-0 to carry a resolution for the final tax abatement for the Gilbane Development Company’s mixed-use project on Lincoln Way. The approval of the tax abatement puts the development one step closer to completion.

Approval of the tax abatement was previously postponed because the developers did not comply with all of the city’s tax abatement requirements.

Gilbane’s project includes 96 apartment units and more than 5,000 square feet of commercial space. This project is one of the urban revitalization areas the city has created to bring more housing and retail options to Ames.

City Council also voted 6-0 to pass the second ordinance establishing the South Wilmoth Avenue urban revitalization area and rezoning the property for high-density residential. This mixed-use space would create housing and retail options similar to the new developments in Campustown.

This area, also known as the Breckenridge property, has been the topic of several previous council meetings. The proposed plan for the property would include an apartment complex with more than 400 beds and at least 15,000 square feet of commercial space.