Proposed ordinance may prohibit e-cigarettes on KCATA buses

Vote still needed in city council

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - An ordinance passed out of the public safety committee would ban Kansas City Area Transportation Authority riders from using any battery-powered smoking device, including electronic cigarettes.

"We've asked passengers not to do that. They didn't see the signage on the bus that would support that and became a little bit unruly," KCATA General Manager Mark Huffer said.

The KCATA is working with the city to stop people from using any battery-powered smoking device while riding the bus.

"You're just breathing in mist, it's not like you actually have a real cigarette lit," Timothy Collins, a smoker and bus rider said.

Kansas City Director of Health Dr. Rex Archer said otherwise in his testimony in front of the public safety committee Wednesday. He pointed out a number of toxic chemicals used in e-cigarettes which include an ingredient in antifreeze.

Dr. Archer added the number of kids using e-cigarettes in grades six through 12 have doubled from 3.3 to 6.8 percent.

"We're getting substantial increases in reporting of kids being poisoned with the Poison Control Center," Dr. Archer said.

Cities like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles have outright banned e-cigarettes in public places. In the metro, Independence is the first city to consider such a ban.

For the KCATA, e-cigarettes are also a distraction for bus drivers. But riders like Chad Hunter disagree.

"You got people yelling, people talking on the bus you got people talking on cell phones listening to mp3 players. I just don't see how the electronic cigarettes is anymore of distraction that those are," Hunter said.

The ordinance will go in front of the full city council for a vote next Thursday. 

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