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Austin Debating e-Cigarette Moratorium

Created: 03/17/2014 7:21 PM KAALtv.com
By: Dan Conradt

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- It’s a discussing being held in communities around the country. Now, it’s Austin’s turn.

"Most people would agree that it's considered safer," said manager Patrick Murphy at Austin Tobacco.

“We need to stop and educate ourselves," said Lea Oelfke, a member of the Austin Drug Task Force.

It's a question that has divided the city council -- should Austin have a one year moratorium on the use of e-cigarettes and similar products in public places?

"During that year our focus would be on research," Lea Oelfke said.

“E-cigarettes have basically three different chemicals in them, where as your cigarettes have 300 chemicals per cigarette," Austin Tobacco’s Patrick Murphy said.

“You're still getting that nicotine and obviously the nicotine can be very addictive," added Austin Police Chief Brian Krueger.

“As well as looking at these side effects because there's really not a lot of research on what are the long-term, short term effects of those," said drug task force member Lea Oelfke.

"They have a lot of candy flavored cigarettes, bubble gum and other candy flavors, so obviously I think it's geared toward the youth," police chief Brian Krueger said.

“It's still an adult product, and if you can't keep it out of your kids hands maybe you're not watching your kids closely enough," Patrick Murphy countered.

“The ingredients used in e-cigarettes are not monitored per se, so as a healthy alternative it's difficult for us to say that's an alternative we would support," Lea Oelfke said.

“It's taken smoking and made it so I'm not afraid to smoke around my kid any more. The vapor you exhale is just water. There's no real smell to it any more," said manager Patrick Murphy at Austin Tobacco.

The Austin city council discussed a moratorium during an earlier work session and ... with one member absent ... voted 3-3 on a proposal to send the topic to the “ordinance” discussion. Mayor Tom Stiehm broke the tie with a "yes" vote

"I think all of us are on the same page where we're waiting for either more federal or state legislation that would look at FDA approval or approval of these products and monitoring what's in these products," task force member Lea Oelfke said.

“I think it's just them fighting because they don't understand it, and they want it out of their faces now," said Patrick Murphy at Austin Tobacco.