Town of Elon bans smoking, vaping along downtown streets

ELON, N.C. -- Elon has banned smoking on downtown streets.

Less than 24 hours after the town decided to ban all active tobacco products from downtown streets and sidewalks, people are fuming.

"Vape liquids, different types of glass, cigars, we got a nice little hookah section, cigarette section as well," describes Dylon Massey, who works at the Stratus Smoke and Vape.

The shop is just down the road from downtown Elon and Elon University.

There, you'll find just about everything on the shelves, except for one sold-out product.

"The most popular product at the moment is probably the Juul," Massey said. "About 60 percent of the time it's college students."

College students like Max Rudow and Sam Moreland are turning to this instead of tobacco.

"I don't really get why the public is concerned about it," Moreland said. "I don't know why it bothers people. It's not like cigarettes, it doesn't smell bad really."

The two Elon freshmen are not happy about the ordinance that was passed unanimously in Elon Tuesday night.

It means all types of cigarettes, vapes, Juuls and tobacco products are banned from downtown.

"That kind of sucks because we're not supposed to Juul in our dorms, so where do you want us to Juul?" asks Moreland and Rudow.

They don't feel it's fair.

"It's still legal for 18-year-olds to buy Juuls. So until it's illegal for us to buy Juuls, I don't understand why you're telling us that we can't Juul in public places," they say.

When FOX8 told them that getting caught could come with a $50 fine, they were not happy.

"I'm still probably going to Juul then until I get fined at least once," Rudow said.

Both Moreland and Rudow feel that the fines are not enough to get people to drop their habit and that the move has motive.

"I think it's because they don't want kids Juuling, which I mean makes sense, I get it. But people are going to do it anyway," Moreland said.

"We can't really get fined in our dorms, so everyone will probably just Juul in the dorms," Rudow said.

RIchard White, Elon town manager, is hopeful that this move will lead to a healthier community.

"It's one more step the town can take to be proactive to encourage our community to be a healthy community and develop healthy habits," he said.

White does plan to create designated smoking areas for people who want to continue with their habit.

As for enforcement, he hopes that people will just listen to the law and understand it's for their benefit. They will not be going out of their way to search for offenders.

"As our officers come in contact with with those that may be violating the ordinance or if we get a call, we'll respond," he said. "But we don't plan to proactively go about and stop anyone from smoking or prevent it."

He hopes with warnings, the public will avoid getting any potential fines.

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