For the past twelve years, the National Park Service has prohibited smoking in all buildings and indoor spaces. They have even outlawed cigarettes in many outdoor areas to reduce the threat of forest fires. Now the NPS is expanding their previous ban to include electronic cigarettes in all places where smoking is outlawed. Director Jonathan Jervis announced the new anti-vaping policy yesterday.
“Protecting the health and safety of our visitors and employees is one of the most critical duties of the National Park Service,” Jervis explained. “We are therefore extending the restrictions currently in place protecting visitors and employees from exposure to tobacco smoke to include exposure to vapor from electronic smoking devices.”
Employees were brought up to speed on the new rules last week. In a memo detailing the new anti-vaping policy, the National Park Service claimed that there are still too many unknowns and potential risk factors to allow vaping to continue without any rules. The memo explained that ecigs would be prohibited in all non-smoking areas “out of an abundance of caution in light of the scientific findings and uncertainty to date, and in the interest of equity.”
So what does this mean for vapers who are visiting a National Park? Ecigs are not allowed in NPS buildings or vehicles. Outdoor areas are iffy too with each park superintendent having the power to ban vapor devices wherever it seems appropriate. In many cases, superintendents outlaw cigarettes in wooded camping areas to prevent fires. Even though ecigs use no flames and don’t burn, they will automatically be prohibited too.
Vaping activists criticized the new NPS policy as excessive. Gregory Conley, the president of the American Vaping Association said the rules are not only unfair, but they are also going to be impossible to enforce. “Outdoor smoking bans in parks can least somewhat be justified by the risk of fires, but vapor products pose no more of a fire risk than a cellphone battery,” he said. “This behavior is shameful and any enforcement of the ban will constitute a great misuse of government resources. The National Park Service should leave ex-smokers alone and let them camp and hike in peace.”
Do you ever use your e-cigarette in areas owned by the National Park Service? Will you stop vaping in the banned areas or will you ignore the policy?