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McAllen adds 'vaping' devices, e-cigarettes to smoking regulations

Some users, though, aren’t happy with the new regulations. (CBS 4 News)

New regulations for e-cigarettes and so-called "vaping" devices have irked some local users, who believe they're safer than traditional cigarettes.

The McAllen City Commission added e-cigarettes and vaping devices to existing smoking regulations on Monday.

"We actually get quite a bit of calls from the citizens of McAllen about e-cigarettes -- and complaining," said City Manager Roy Rodriguez, who added an incident involving a person smoking an e-cigarette at the library "sounded the alarm" about the issue.

McAllen already prohibits smoking in nearly all public places including stores, schools city-owned buildings and movie theaters and within 25 feet of any entrance, exit or open window of a public place.

Some people who use e-cigarettes and vaping devices, though, aren't happy with the new regulations.

"I wake up every day not coughing up a lung or anything like that," said Edward Tillman, who works at an e-cigarette shop in La Plaza Mall and considers e-cigarettes safer than traditional cigarettes. "I should have a right to change my health and this is the way to change your health."

During the Monday afternoon meeting, City Commissioner John Ingram asked whether or not McAllen reviewed scientific evidence about the health effects of e-cigarettes when reviewing the smoking ordinance.

The American Medical Association supports regulation of e-cigarettes and adopted a new policy during June that recommends the same age restrictions as alcohol.

"Many health professionals are concerned about the potential harmful health effects of acute and chronic inhalation of the vaporized chemicals found in electronic cigarettes, including nicotine, propylene glycol (a known irritant when inhaled), and other chemicals often of unknown dose and identity," according to a statement published by the association. "Experts are concerned that the marketing of electronic cigarettes can increase nicotine addiction among young people or serve as a gateway for them to try other tobacco products like conventional cigarettes, which are known to cause disease and lead to premature death."

Anyone who violates the city's smoking regulations is subject to a $100 fine on the first offense.

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