Stevens Point Struggles With Regulations For Vaping Bars

Bar That Would Allow Consumption Of E-Cigarettes Looks Into Establishing Itself In City

E-cigarettes are growing in popularity nationwide. Photo: Joseph Morris (CC-BY-ND).

The city of Stevens Point is struggling with how to regulate “vaping bars,” where smokeless e-cigarettes are consumed.

There are currently no vaping bars in Stevens Point, but one is looking to locate there. The growing demand for e-cigarettes, which mix addictive nicotine with a smokeless vapor, has the city’s common council racing to develop regulations, according to Mayor Andrew Halverson.

“Obviously this is new territory for municipalities all across the state,” said Halverson. “It’s really new territory for the (Federal Drug Administration), the (Environmental Protection Agency), and other regulatory arms of the federal government.”

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Halverson says any attempt to ban vaping bars or e-cigarettes would have to come from the federal or state government, and not cities like Stevens Point.

“I certainly can’t speak to the addictive nature of nicotine,” said Halverson. “I’m certainly not a scientist. What I can tell you is consumption of nicotine is currently perfectly legal in the United States and the state of Wisconsin. How folks choose to ingest something that is obviously addictive or harmful in nature is none of my concern.”

Halverson says the city is looking at zoning requirements that would restrict where vaping bars could be located, and licensing requirements that would be similar to but less strict than those for taverns. He says it’s a balancing act.

“There are folks who are very concerned about public health,” said Halverson. “We have some libertarian concerns here that say there shouldn’t be any regulation on it whatsoever. And then we have to find our way somewhere in the middle, based on a market that is dynamically developing in front of us.”

The Stevens Point Public Protection Committee discussed vaping bars on Monday night, but took no action.