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CROWN POINT — The prohibition on smoking cigarettes and other tobacco products in Lake County government buildings now includes using electronic cigarettes, or similar devices, to vape nicotine or other liquids.

On Tuesday, the Lake County Council unanimously approved an ordinance adding vaping to the county's existing ban on smoking in government buildings, or within 8 feet of any entrance.

The vaping ban came about after a county government employee was found to be vaping at work, since vaping wasn't covered by the county's indoor smoking restrictions.

The new ordinance inserts language in the employee handbook to clarify that both vaping and smoking are prohibited inside county government buildings.

Lake County Councilman Charlie Brown, D-Gary, who won approval for the state's indoor smoking ban in 2012 during his tenure in the Indiana House, said it just makes sense to include vaping alongside smoking as prohibited indoor activities.

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"With all of the attention given to vaping and the illness/death that it is causing, or reported to be, I think it's absolutely necessary to make sure that we don't have employees in here doing that, or within eight feet of the entrances," Brown said.

As of Oct. 1, 18 people have died in the United States, including one in Indiana, and 1,080 people have suffered lung injuries due to vaping, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The specific cause of the vaping deaths and illnesses has not yet been identified.

The CDC recommends while its investigation is ongoing that all Americans refrain from vaping, especially products containing THC, and similarly avoid smoking cigarettes, which annually are responsible for 11,100 Hoosier deaths.

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