Sedgwick County employees must vape in designated smoking areas

WICHITA, Kan. Sedgwick County is again taking up the issue of vaping, or smoking e-cigarettes.

Wednesday, the county commission discussed whether to send employees who vape outside with smokers.

The signs say people have to stand at least 25 feet away from the door to smoke, The new policy means that county employees also have to stand 25 feet away if they are smoking or using electronic cigarettes. Not all commissioners agree on that point.

"My mother died at age 56 from lung cancer. She tried all the FDA (options the) government approved to try to quit smoking and it didn't work, and she never lived to see her grandchildren," said Commissioner Richard Ranzau.

The topic was personal for two commissioners whose parents smoked, which is why they believed vaping could save people from cigarettes.

"Vaping (is) somewhere from 50 to 75 percent successful, If I can move them away from the thing that is killing them and taking years off their life, and move them toward something less harmful, I think that's a positive health choice. (That) doesn't mean vaping is good,” said Commissioner Jim Howell.

People with the American Heart Association say vaping can lead to smoking.

“They become dual users, in other words they're using regular tobacco products within 18 months of starting those vape products so I don't think there is conclusive evidence e-cigs deter tobacco use, So we consider this today a victory for health,” said Stacy Russell with the American Heart Association.

Other commissioners said the policy was flawed.

"We are the board of health for Sedgwick County, We need to take that responsibility very seriously,” said Chairman David Dennis.

Again this policy only applies to county employees, so it's not clear if the county plans to add this so other people would be allowed to vape or use electronic cigarettes inside the building.