By Nicole Jones
In a 5-2 vote, Pearland City Council opted this week to add vaping to the city’s smoking ban.
Councilmembers Gary Moore and Trent Perez voted against the measure, stating several reasons.
“I think this is an overreach of government. If a business chooses not to allow vaping in their establishment, so be it, but I don’t think it is the business of government to ban this,” Moore said.
“It’s not a necessary move,” Perez said. “I don’t think the science is there yet and I also don’t think amending an ordinance that was put to the voters — we should have the voters make that amendment.”
Monday’s action was the second and final reading of the amendment.
Requested by Councilmembers Luke Orlando and Adrian Hernandez, the amendment to the city’s smoking prohibition ordinance includes electronic smoking devices in the definition of smoking. Until now, vaping inside a business was at the discretion of the business owner. However, the revision means businesses must treat vaping as smoking, with the exception of businesses the sell smoking products and devices under a conditional use permit.
The smoking ban was an initiated referendum by a group of fifth graders that ended up passing with 80 percent of the vote.
Those voting in favor of adding vaping to the ban emphasized that the state has recognized the risk of these e-cigarettes and is treating them the same as smoking.
Because it was approved by initiative, the council can only add to the ordinance without voter approval but no regulation can be removed without voter approval — except by preemption of state or federal law. The ordinance regulates only where smoking or vaping can occur. It does not regulate the sale of smoking/vaping products, as state regulations already do this.