NP City Council gives first round of approval to e-cigarette ordinance

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. KNOP-TV North Platte's city council is taking the first steps to regulate the sale and possession of vaping products.

Steps to regulate the sale and possession of vaping products in North Platte are underway. The proposed ordinance was up for discussion during Tuesday's city council meeting. (Source: Beatriz Reyna/KNOP-TV)

It comes after the North Platte Police Department proposed a new law that would allow them to regulate the possession, the sale and the training of vaping-related products.

The new ordinance would ban people younger than 19 from possessing vaping products.

Police Chief Daniel Hudson says not only has Grand Island already banned vaping in public but, vaping is an epidemic impacting schools across the country, including in North Platte.

"These stores that pop up are selling products where there is no quality control," he said. "We don't know what's in them, you're having THC's put into these things, you're having a lot of chemicals in it and it's really causing lung problems and diseases and it's because there is no quality control on what's going into these packages."

Former councilman Brook Baker says "this issue hits close to home."

He addressed the council Tuesday night and says a Juul pod contains the equivalent of one pack of cigarettes.

"This could be a huge deterrent for the kids that haven't started yet," he said. "When they see their buddies quote on quote "the cool kids" are vaping in the hallway or in the bathroom, and suddenly do six months, nine months or a year's probation with an ankle monitor because they can't pull their heads out, it might deter them from doing it."

The ordinance carries a penalty of up to $500.

The Center for Disease Control says there have been 2,290 vaping-related illness cases reported in 49 states. At least 47 deaths have been reported in 25 states so far.

The proposal will go before the council for a second reading on December 17th.

In other business, the council approved a recycling plan with ABC Recycling Tuesday.

Under the short-term plan, the city will pay ABC Recycling $70.50 a ton to recycle paper products dumped into the "yellow-top" trash cans placed in the city's alleys.

ABC Recycling currently handles about 80% of the city's recyclables.

The proposal for the 2019-2020 fiscal year will cost the city about $120,000, which is about $28,000 more from last year.

The revision of the city's recycling program has been in the works for several months.

Changes to the industry inspired those in the recycling business and concerned citizens to put their ideas together in a series of open meetings to find a reasonable solution that would be proposed to the city council.