The city of Sumrall is adding on to its laws that prohibit smoking in public places within city limits with a new regulation that disallows the use of “vaping” devices, such as e-cigarettes, in those areas.
The “100 Percent Smoke Free” ordinance was reviewed and adopted May 7 by the Sumrall Board of Aldermen during the board’s monthly meeting. Tobacco bans, such as the prohibition of cigarettes in public places in the city, had previously been adopted by former Mayor Gerolene Rayborn and her administration.
“They had enacted the smoke-free ordinance, and I think they even got an award for doing all that,” Mayor Heath Sumrall said. “We just amended it to add the e-cigarettes and the vaping into it.”
According to the Mississippi State Department of Health’s website, the use of e-cigarettes and the like has increased rapidly in the state since 2010. Although the full long-term health consequences of e-cigarettes are unknown, the site states the vapor produced by those products can damage the brain and nervous system of children and teenagers, as well as harm developing fetuses in pregnant women.
Department officials are especially concerned with the use of e-cigarettes in young people, with a 2014 study showing that one in four high school students used or had tried the electronic devices.
“I guess a lot of the problems they’re having, is that a lot of these high-school-age kids are actually sneaking this stuff into classrooms, and they’re able to smoke it some of it,” Sumrall said. “From what I understand, some of the little devices kind of look like a thumb drive, and they’re bringing those into classrooms.”
Several Mississippi municipalities have already enacted indoor bans on vaping, including Petal, Bassfield, New Augusta, Prentiss and Wiggins. Diamondhead and Flowood include partial indoor bans.
Currently, an individual must be 18 years or older to buy any electronic cigarettes, electronic cigars or electronic pipes or other smoking devices.
“A young lady stopped by (City Hall) and was trying to push it through Lamar and Marion counties, and she had requested that we amend our existing ordinance to include the e-cigs and the vaping devices,” Sumrall said. “So we went ahead and did that.”