DURHAM (WTVD) -- Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), also known as e-cigarettes, vapes, mods, e-hookah, or hookah pens, will soon be part of the smoking ban in Durham County.
Effective Jan. 1, the devices will not be allowed to be used on city and county government property - which includes sidewalks, parks, trails, athletic fields and bus stops. Tobacco use is also prohibited at the Durham County Human Services building.
"We must protect the public from the harms caused by tobacco use, including e-cigarettes," said Director Durham County Department of Public Health Gayle Harris. "Our top priority is to ensure that we provide expert due diligence to sustain the longevity of our residents. The aerosol generated by e-cigarettes is never comparable to clean air. Only clean air is clean air."
Officials say parents and those working with middle and high school students are urged to be alert that teenagers' use of electronic smoking devices has increased by 352 percent between 2011 and 2013, according to the N.C. Youth Tobacco Survey. Nationally, U.S. high school ENDS users increased from 660,000 to 2 million and 120,000 to 450,000 in middle schoolers.
In October, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urged the FDA to regulate e-cigarettes like it does other tobacco products.
The group also said it wants to raise the age to legally buy all tobacco products and e-cigarettes nationwide to 21.
Right now, only Hawaii and about 90 other cities and communities enforce a 21-year-old age limit.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), e-cigarette exposure calls to poison centers has also increased from one per month in September 2010 to 215 per month in February 2014, and over half of those calls were regarding children ages 5 and under.
Officials say a common misconception is that e-cigarettes assist with cigarette cessation. However, ENDS are not an FDA-approved quit aid.
Durham County is offering a series of free classes to help residents stop smoking. The classes will be held on Wednesdays, January 20-February 10 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at 414 E. Main Street in Durham. To register, call (919) 560-7771 or email firstname.lastname@example.org