Montgomery County has become the second Capital Region county to ban the use of electronic cigarettes on county property because of the possible health risks.
County Executive Matthew L. Ossenfort banned them by executive order, extending an existing ban on smoking regular cigarettes and other products in and around county-owned buildings. The order applies to both county employees and visitors.
Albany County in February adopted a similar ban, as concerns about the increasing popularity of electronic smoking devices has grown in recent months.
In his executive order, Ossenfort said some of the substances emitted by e-cigarettes are potentially harmful and addictive.
“It had been brought to us by some of the employees in the county,” spokesman Andrew Santillo said on Thursday. “Matt wanted to get out in front of this issue.”
The e-cigarettes use a heating element and battery to give users an inhaled vapor of nicotine, and the order says the smoke-like exhaled vapor can contain nicotine and other substances that may irritate some people who inhale it second-hand.
Advocacy groups like the American Lung Association and Tobacco-Free Coalition have said they’re concerned that e-cigarettes are harmful, and could be used by minors.
Advocates for e-cigarettes say concerns about them are exaggerated, and some medical professionals say they can help users of regular cigarettes quit the habit.
The e-cigarettes currently on the market are not regulated by the federal Food and Drug Administration, Ossenfort noted.
The order applies to several hundred county workers, as well as people visiting county offices. Santillo said it is intended to protect the health and safety of both.
“County residents who wish to forego exposure to the addictive and potentially harmful substances contained in the e-cigarette vapors should at least be so entitled to this wish while located on county property,” Ossenfort said in the order, the third issued since he became county executive in January.
The order also applied to electronic cigars or pipes, which are less common.
The order extends a Board of Supervisors resolution from 2009 that bans smoking in all county buildings, county vehicles, and within 20 feet of the entrances to county buildings. Most of the county offices are located in Fonda.