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Craig Thompson, a sales associate at Infinite Vapor on University Avenue, Madison, uses an e-cigarette.

Following the lead of Madison and some other municipalities, Dane County could soon ban the use of vapor cigarettes at work.

County Board Supervisor Jenni Dye of Fitchburg and County Executive Joe Parisi introduced an ordinance on Tuesday to prohibit the use of electronic delivery devices, or e-cigarettes, in workplaces.

“This proposal makes a very simple change in the interest of public health,” Dye said. “By treating e-cigarettes like we already treat cigarettes, we can make sure, in areas we share with others, the air is clean and enjoyable for everyone.”

The devices allow the user to get the nicotine normally obtained from a cigarette without producing smoke. The exhaled vapor, however, can contain fine and ultra-fine particulate matter, including nicotine, propylene glycol, formaldehyde and heavy metals.

The federal government has no restrictions on e-cigarettes yet. Only three states, North Dakota, New Jersey and Utah, have restrictions. Florence County is the only county in Wisconsin with an ordinance prohibiting e-cigarettes in public places.

Madison is one of five municipalities in Wisconsin to prohibit e-cigarettes in the workplace, along with Ashwaubenon, Greenfield, Onalaska and South Milwaukee.

Other cities and counties have adopted more limited bans.

“Ensuring our workforce has a safe work environment is critical to a productive, healthy workforce,” Parisi said. “It is important to protect Dane County’s clean indoor air by including electronic smoking devices in Dane County’s smoke-free air ordinance.”


Bill Novak is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.

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