Across the Mid-Ohio Valley, restaurant and bar policies on electronic cigarettes vary widely.
Some business owners have policies that don't allow e-cigarettes, some do allow them and others don't have an actual policy and may have never had a customer ask.
But until the full health effects of e-cigarettes have been studied and determined, we think using them in public places should be limited, just as smoking traditional cigarettes is.
These are products that were just introduced in the U.S. market within the last decade.
Some health organizations still have questions about the health implications of using the e-cigarettes, particularly about the side effects of inhaling nicotine vapor.
Researchers at the European Respiratory Society's Annual Congress in 2012 found that the products do cause damage to the lungs.
Since they are tobacco-free, e-cigarettes may be a good tool for smoking cessation and safer for smokers than regular cigarettes.
But just as those at a nearby table in a restaurant shouldn't have to suffer possible health effects from tobacco smoke, they also shouldn't have to suffer any ill effects from electronic cigarettes.
Until it's clear what the health impacts are, we think business owners should err on the side of caution and simply consider e-cigarettes to be cigarettes.