No smoke: E-cigarettes banned from local water park

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UHRICHSVILLE, Ohio - Since it was built in 2008, the Uhrichsville Water Park has banned smoking inside its gates.

A bench is available to smokers outside of the park.

But electronic cigarettes have posed a challenge to the no-smoking policy.

"E-cigs is like a gray area, you know a gray area," said Mayor Terry Culbertson.

"It isn't tobacco," said Culbertson, adding, "Is it a form of smoking? Of course it is."

Park manager Julie Beach said when a visitor brought an e-cigarette into the park last year she wasn't sure what to do about it.

When a visitor lit one up this year Beach said she intervened. "We had (a visitor) that was actually sitting right behind me and she was very offended that I asked her to leave. Her friend luckily said 'just say yes' and we will do what we need to do but she was really upset about asking her to put out the cigarette," said Beach.

Mayor Culbertson said he asked the city's service director to investigate different policies and council last week unanimously voted to ban electronic cigarettes from the park.

"As we speak, New Philadelphia is working on this very same thing because they done a ban on smoking totally in their park areas, no smoking at all. Now we haven't went that far but we have tried to keep it out of the water park," said Culbertson.

Smokers visiting the park on Tuesday said they have never been offended by having to go outside of the park to light up traditional cigarettes.

"The little kids, I think, don't deserve to be around secondhand smoke and I think it's only fair for the smokers to come out and have their own little section," said Samantha Stevens.

"It don't bother me," said Tina Smart, adding, "I'd rather be away from the people that don't smoke. I think it's fair to them."

But including electronic cigarettes in the ban gets a mixed reaction.

"I just moved here from Los Angeles. There's no smoking anywhere, on the beaches, in town, no restaurants, no anywhere so I think it's great," said Benny Bloom.

"I think they should be allowed to have them in there; that's my opinion," said Smart, explaining, "They are not tobacco and they don't let off the same smell or I think chemicals as a cigarette does."

"We just felt that there are some people in the water park that don't like it and we have to keep these people coming back to our water park to pay for that water park," said Culbertson.

He explained that the new ban is not meant to antagonize electronic cigarette smokers, but to make their no-smoking policy universal.

"Let's just make it even for everybody. We've never had a problem with people coming in and trying to smoke because it's posted out there no smoking in the water park," said Culbertson.

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