Vaping could be added to state smoking ban

It's against the law to smoke inside Florida businesses. But, as it stands, there's no law against vaping.

That's something that could potentially change, come November. A proposal before the Constitution Revision Commission, which would ban indoor vaping, is now one step closer to appearing on the ballot, leaving it up to voters to decide.

As Commissioner Lisa Carlton said at Tuesday's meeting, the proposal is not about whether a person should vape or not, but rather, it's about where.

"I think it's time to clean up our restaurants, our malls, our movie theaters, our workplaces, so we can all breathe clean air again," Carlton said.

The CRC voted 26-6 Tuesday, in favor of a vaping ban in all of Florida's indoor businesses. Carlton, the proposal's sponsor, cited a 2016 Surgeon General's report detailing health risks and suggesting an e-cigarette ban for indoor workplaces (like the State Capitol, for example) where it's still allowed.

"About 6 months ago, I was in the hallway of this building and there was someone here vaping," Carlton said. "I think we have been part of an experiment for the last few years for these vaping and e-cigarettes."

"I think it's time to end the experiment," Carlton said.

Back in 1985, the State enacted the Florida Indoor Air Act. In 2002, 70% of voters made it illegal to smoke in indoor businesses. 16 years later, "vapor generating electronic devices" could be added to that ban.

Attorney General Pam Bondi said at the meeting, "I think we are just keeping up with technology, something that was not contemplated 20 years ago, and it's just about the workplace."

But, for those who've made a lifestyle change through vaping, the proposal has them concerned.

"I used to be a heavy black and mild smoker," said Brock Shaffer who works at Purely Vapor in Tampa. "If you had to go outside to vape, you're going to be exposed to all of those hardcore cigarettes smokers and the temptation is still there."

While vaping would still be allowed in shops that sell the devices, Shaffer worries the ban could send former smokers back to the pack.

"Hopefully, this bill isn't passed because it will negatively affect a lot of people that have made a solid life choice in getting away from cigarettes," Shaffer said.

The proposal now advances to the Constitution Revision Commission's Style and Drafting Committee. From there, the Commission will take a final vote. If the proposal makes it to the November ballot, it would need support from 60% of voters to pass.