Electronic cigarettes to be banned from all State Health Department areas

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As more people make the switch from real cigarettes to electronic cigarettes, more people are saying 'not in our workplace.' The latest ban comes from the State Department of Health.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, 'vaping" as it's called, will be banned inside any building that houses state health workers. That's 80 offices across Hawaii.

"They're promoted heavily to people as cessation products but they're not regulated by the FDA," Lola Irvin, State Dept. of Health Tobacco Settlement Project Manager, said.

Banning e-cigs was one of the last projects for Health Director Loretta Fuddy before she was killed in a plane crash off Molokai last week.

Irvin says the idea for the e-cig ban came from the health department's own employees.

"They're also a workplace distraction," Irvin said. "We have received inquiries from employees as well as other places about its use in the workplace."

The rule change doesn't sit well with the folks at volcano e-cigs, whose business has expanded to ten stores statewide.

"These types of restrictions being put on people who are making the active decision to remove themselves from the tobacco environment really hinders their ability to explore other alternatives," Scott Rasak, Volcano E-Cigs Director of Marketing, said.

The state isn't banning e-cigs altogether. But users will be treated like regular smokers who have to be 20 feet away from any building entrance when they use the product. E-cigs are already banned from airplanes and Hawaii movie theaters - and the policy could be catching on.

"We have received inquiries from other state departments and so I think there is going to be opportunity because other state departments are looking at our policy and other workplaces are also asking about it," Irvin said.

Copyright 2013 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.