The use of e-cigarettes is no longer allowed inside public places in Onalaska after a unanimous vote by the Common Council Tuesday night.
The idea to change the e-cigarettes ordinance in Onalaska hit the desks of Common Council members at the beginning of May. Initially, two of the six members voted against a ban, but after multiple informational meetings and public input, those two changed their minds, and one community activist says it's all for the better.
"I think I started back in 1999, or thereabout,” said Sue Lynch, a community activist in Onalaska.
Over the span of about 15 years, Lynch has made it her life mission to ensure a good quality of living for everyone.
"Back in the early 2000, we started to work towards smoke-free dining,” said Lynch.
After legislation passed in 2010 in which indoor workplaces, including restaurants and hotels, became smoke-free in Wisconsin, Lynch thought her work was done.
"Dr. Mahr and I and a team of community activists were able to accomplish our mission of having everything smoke-free,” said Lynch.
However, she never thought e-cigarettes were going to become so popular.
"I think they are harmful,” said Lynch.
"There is no, absolutely no regulation in the United States for e-cigarettes, so basically manufacturers, a lot from China, can do exactly what they wish,” said Harvey Bertrand, a member of the Onalaska Common Council.
So Lynch decided to step up to the plate again. She testified at a Common Council meeting about a week ago.
"I spoke on the fact that I worked very hard to have clean indoor air, and the whole issue of secondhand smoke,” said Lynch.
"One of the chief areas I think all of us were uninformed was about secondary smoke,” said Bertrand.
Bertrand has supported a ban on e-cigarettes since the beginning and credits the change in ordinance to residents like Lynch.
"Hopefully it doesn't reoccur in any of our other communities, but if it does, I will take the time to go testify again,” said Lynch.
This ordinance bans e-cigarettes anywhere that smoking is banned in the state of Wisconsin.
Bertrand said the council also voted unanimously to follow the state law banning the possession and purchase of e-cigarettes by minors.