They're touted as being virtually odorless, and e-cigarettes may only emit vapor. But the tobacco alternative may soon be formally banned at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.

The ban isn't the result of any potential harm to bystanders from second-hand "smoke" or some sort of distraction to event goers, according to civic center General Manager Brian Maliske.

Maliske said it's because civic center staff has a hard time telling the difference between regular cigarettes and those of the electronic kind, especially in large crowds

I have yet to attend a concert or other large event at the civic center in my short time here in Rapid City but I suppose it's fair to say that people still sneak a smoke from time to time — despite it not being allowed.

Given how e-cigarettes are reportedly odorless and emit just vapor, which dissipates in the air exponentially quicker than actual smoke, are things going to be any different with a new ban?

I went to a shop that sells e-cigarettes today as I was reporting on the issue and these apparatus looked more like drug paraphernalia, not cigarettes. Hopefully civic center staffers can make that distinction.

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Maliske said a informal ban has been in place on e-cigarettes for the past three years and that the new ban would only formalize the current standard.

I agree that patrons that don't wish to be burdened by e-cigarettes or cigarettes in general, shouldn't have to deal with it.

Unfortunately for the e-cigarette crowd, the majority rules when it comes to something that has become as taboo as smoking.

Contact John Lee McLaughlin at 394-8421 or john.mclaughlin@rapidcityjournal.com

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