Kansas attorney general proposing legislation to ban vaping inside public places

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Vaping inside many Lee's Summit public places is now banned. This month, the city council added e-cigarettes to the existing Clean Indoor Air Act, which prohibits smoking indoors.

And now, the entire state of Kansas could follow suit.

Most people who vape started using it for one reason: to quit smoking.

"I'm a two-pack-a-day smoker six years ago and haven't had a cigarette in six years thanks to vaping," Gerry Donovan said.

But with an outbreak of illnesses linked to vaping, a lot of new restrictions are being rolled out. You now have to be 21 to buy vaping products, and there's a federal proposal to outlaw some flavored vapes.

"Prohibition isn't going to stop people from getting it, but it is going to stop people from having access to good products, verified and quality-control products, which all of these are," Donovan said.

But the crackdown on vaping could just be starting.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is now asking lawmakers to add vaping to the state's Clean Indoor Air Act, which has limited smoking in public places for 10 years.

"The implementation of the Clean Indoor Air Act of 2010 was a major achievement for the state. We have seen an increase in our air quality as a result," said Sara Prem, advocacy specialist with the American Lung Association of Kansas and greater Kansas City.

Prem said the fears businesses had about losing customers also never panned out. And although people might believe vaping is only harmful to the person doing it, emerging research is debunking that.

"The emissions from the e-cigarette devices, certainly there's nicotine in it. There's particulate matter. There's formaldehyde, a lot of damaging elements in that emission. So we do need to keep that out of the environment," Prem said.

With e-cigarette use jumping 78% among youth in just one year in Kansas, the state's AG said now is the time to act to protect public health.

If Kansas legislators decide to update the Clean Indoor Air Act to include vaping, there would still be some exemptions, including at stores that mostly sell tobacco products. There are also fines for both businesses and users who smoke in prohibited places.

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