Vape ban gets Derry and Strabane council committee approval
Derry City and Strabane District Council is set to ban vaping on council-owned property.
A council committee has agreed to update its existing tobacco use policy to include the use of e-cigarettes.
The ban would apply to all councillors, employees and visitors to council buildings.
The council said the policy change is required because not enough is known about the long-term consequences of e-cigarette use.
After getting approval at committee level on Tuesday, it will go before full council next month.
Independent councillor Paul Gallagher said it was a positive move.
"There are mixed views about vaping but what we do know is that some of these e-cigarettes give off a large amount of smoke or vapour. That alone is very irritating to people."
Vapes or e-cigarettes are battery-powered smoking devices filled with a liquid that contains nicotine, which is then heated into vapours that users inhale.
It was recently estimated that more than 40m people use the devices globally.
The council's revised policy states:" While acknowledging that vaping is probably significantly less harmful than smoking and may be an effective aid to quitting smoking, given the lack of evidence regarding the long-term health consequences associated with their use, council considers it prudent to adopt a precautionary approach to their use within the workplace."
Council chamber vaping
Public health experts and cancer charities in the UK have said that, based on the current evidence, e-cigarettes are not completely risk free but carry a fraction of the risk of smoking cigarettes.
Londonderry GP Dr Joe McEvoy said the common consensus is that vaping is a safer alternative to smoking.
"Ideally you do not take anything into your lungs at all, but as an alternative to smoking it is almost certainly about one twentieth of the risk of smoking to your heart and lungs."
It is not the first time the issue of vaping has been raised in the Derry City and Strabane District council chamber.
In July the Derry Journal reported that the mayor interrupted council business to reprimand a number of councillors who, during a six-hour council meeting, vaped in the chamber.