Electronic cigarettes are now banned at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center after action taken Tuesday by its board of directors.
Users of the electronic smokes, which have been dubbed "personal vaporization devices" or PVDs under the new policy, will now have to follow the same rules as regular smokers at the civic center with the board's unanimous vote.
They will not be allowed to use the devices indoors and must stay at least 30 feet away from the facility's entrances while smoking them, according to the policy.
The devices are not subject to the state's smoking ban, so prohibiting e-cigarettes fell under an updated civic center policy governing the use of tobacco.
The ban centers on the challenge posed to civic center staff to determine what patrons are smoking during events, according to General Manager Brian Maliske.
"And then, of course, to wade into the middle of the stands or if it happens to be a concert, out onto the floor, it is really not realistic for them to go there and spend their time trying to discern whether its a PVD, whether it's marijuana, whether it is tobacco, whether it's hookah, or whatever they call it, it's been our policy that smoking is not allowed in the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center itself," Maliske told the board.
Board member Jeff Bailie said that not having a formal rule against the use of electronic cigarettes also posed an issue. The civic center has not allowed the devices for the past three years but had no formal policy addressing it.
"The reason I went for the PVD instead of just e-cigarette was because the more I looked online, these devices go far beyond e-cigarettes," said Ryan Soye, an assistant city attorney. "There's e-cigarettes, e-cigars, e-hookahs, there's just general vaporization devices that don't really look like anything other than a long stainless steel cylinder with a clear tube at the end so I think that restricting ourselves to e-cigarettes would get us into trouble through enforcement."
Nationally, Oklahoma has approved a ban on e-cigarettes within state-owned property. North Dakota, Utah and New Jersey have followed suit with bans effective wherever regular tobacco smoke isn't allowed. New York City went further by extending its smoking ban in public spaces to include e-cigarette use.
In other business Tuesday, the board discussed details of a nearly $1 million insurance claim from hail damage to the civic center's roof and broken skylights in 2013. The civic center has an insurance deductible of $50,000. No action was taken following the discussion.
The board also elected Jeff Bailie as the new board chair and Jennifer Landguth as vice chair. New board members Don Frankenfeld and Donna Winkler were welcomed onto the board, replacing outgoing members John Herr and Chris Haugo.