The city of Flagstaff has an ordinance that bans traditional smoking in a long list of buildings used by the public, including bars, museums, theaters, heath care facilities, child care and adult care facilities, public areas in apartment buildings and businesses, restaurants, stores and sports facilities.
But because the ordinance, which took effect in 2005, does not mention e-cigarettes, city spokesperson Kim Ott said city officials believe the use of the devices cannot be banned generally without amending the ordinance. Until or if that occurs, businesses and other organizations can establish their own policies on e-cigarettes.
One place that the city can ban their use without changing the law is in municipal buildings, which can be done by rule-making. Ott said e-cigarettes are treated just like cigarettes — there is no smoking inside city buildings and no smoking within a “reasonable distance” of windows, doorways and ventilation systems.
So how do businesses and other entities in Flagstaff handle e-cigarettes?
— Al Hennis from Flagstaff Brewing Company said the brewery doesn’t have a policy on the electronic devices either way.
Hennis said he’s had some customers use e-cigarettes indoors and hasn’t had a problem. The brewery also has an outdoor smoking area.
“It’s sort of a non-issue. We haven’t really worried about it,” he said.
— A person who answered the phone at Firecreek Coffee Company said the coffeehouse doesn’t have a policy, either. There’s a regular customer who uses an e-cigarette and it doesn’t seem to bother anyone, the employee said.
— Flagstaff Unified School District recently banned the use of e-cigarettes.
The FUSD District Governing Board voted unanimously in October to add language about e-cigarettes, tobacco substitutes, vapor products and other chemical inhalation devices to its anti-smoking policy. Under the amended policy, e-cigarettes and similar devices are prohibited on FUSD property and at school-sponsored events on or off campus.
“This is as much for visitors as it is for students,” said Superintendent Barbara Hickman last fall when the board adopted the ban. “We want to make sure that people who come onto campus realize that the same laws apply to them. E-cigarettes would not be welcome at football games, they would not be welcome at other events where non-school people might be present as well as students.”
Any person caught smoking an e-cigarette on FUSD property or at a school-sponsored event could be charged with a petty offense under Arizona’s tobacco law. Disciplinary penalties for students caught using e-cigarettes could include suspension or expulsion.
— E-cigarettes are not welcome at most local charter schools, either, regardless of whether or not they have policies as black-and-white as FUSD’s.
“We do not have a specific policy, but we would treat them just like we do regular cigarettes,” said Flagstaff Arts & Leadership Academy Executive Director Becky Daggett.
— The Flagstaff Medical Center moved to ban electronic cigarettes in January and used the opportunity to produce new maps showing where smoking is not allowed across the campus.
“Flagstaff Medical Center embraces the culture of wellness and health and we didn't felt that allowing electronic cigarettes reflects that and was setting a good example for the community and for our patients,”said Trista MacVittie, marketing director for Northern Arizona Healthcare.
The medical center also offers its employees access to a quit-smoking program that distributes educational material and smoking cessation helpers, such as lozenges and gum.
— Northern Arizona University has banned the use of electronic cigarettes inside buildings as well as inside university vehicles.