Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin has signed an executive order that bans electronic cigarettes and vaping devices from state buildings and vehicles, effective Jan. 1.
"We're not extremely happy with that decision," said Courtney Smith, a spokesperson for the Oklahoma Vapors Advocacy League (OVAL).
Governor Fallin signed the order almost two years after making a similar one for tobacco products. Earlier this year, lawmakers passed legislation to make that order permanent
The e-cigarette ban will prohibit the use in all state-owned and leased buildings and vehicles with the exception of Veteran's Affairs Residential Facilities.
Gov. Fallin calls the recent popularity of the devices a concern because their long-term impacts are not known.
"E-cigarettes release vapor that contains chemicals that can impact employees and visitors to state property," she said. "Additionally, many electronic cigarettes look like traditional cigarettes and emit a vapor that looks like smoke. This creates confusion for employees and visitors and presents enforcement challenges for state agencies."
Dr. Terry Cline, Secretary of Health and Human Services says Gov. Fallin's order protects the health of state employees.
"It's an unregulated product," Dr. Cline explained, "we have no guarantees over what's in the product itself."
Smith says the list of ingredients is simple: propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, flavoring, sometimes nicotine, and sometimes distilled water.
As a smoker's alternative and options that offer lower or no nicotine, Smith says e-cigarettes are still better than traditional cigarettes.
"OU has done studies on lung function after the use of electronic cigarettes, versus smoking, and there are no adverse effects," said Smith
Dr. Cline says the nicotine content in most e-cigarette liquids still stir concern.
"Nicotine is a very addictive substance if it's not used in a controlled, regulated way, it can be very dangerous as well," said Dr. Cline.
Governor Fallin says she made the ban effective January 1 to give employees time to consider ways to quit smoking.
"If you're a state employee who smokes or uses e-cigarettes, I encourage you to make quitting your New Year's resolution," said Fallin. "We have resources at your disposal to help you quit."
The signing was not made available to the media.
Although Smith and OVAL disagree with the ban, they do agree there needs to be a law in place to outlaw e-cigarette sales to minors. They're working with state lawmakers to address the issue next session. The session begins February 2.