Los Angeles lawmakers extended the city’s smoking restrictions to include electronic cigarettes (also called e-cigarettes and vape pens). The L.A. City Council voted 14-0 Tuesday on sweeping regulation that bans the use of e-cigarettes in worksites and public places. The measure now goes to Mayor Eric Garcetti for signature. If signed, the restrictions will take effect 30 days later.
The city council action banned the use of e-cigarettes from essentially the same places as tobacco products, which the exception of vaping lounges, the hangouts where users gather to inhale the e-cigarette vapors (i.e. vaping) and try different flavors. This exception is similar to those made for hookah and cigar lounges under traditional anti-smoking rules. E-cigarettes will also be permitted when appropriate for theatrical purposes. The e-cigarette industry tried to get the city to allow them in bars and nightclubs, but failed.
Extremely popular, e-cigarettes resemble a long cigarette. When the user inhales, the airflow triggers a heater or atomizer, which then vaporizes the liquid nicotine and propylene glycol (PEG), the stuff used to create fake smoke in theaters, in the refillable cartridge. The user inhales a puff that feels like smoking tobacco and exhales a cloud of PEG vapors that resembles smoke. The devices, which sell for $100 on up, have no tobacco in them. However, since they are relatively new, long-term health effects are unknown.
The LA City council chambers debate on implementing any e-cigarette bans was heated. Several lawmakers shared personal experiences with smoking, and showed the strong views being espoused in the e-cigarette debate. So far, there is no definitive proof either way if e-cigarettes lead to smoking or discourage it. However, lawmakers like Council President Herb Wesson, a long-time smoker, were adamant that they did not want to support anything that might attract one new smoker.
One large independent maker of electronic cigarettes, NJOY, pointed out that the council decision was made in the absence of credible science. However, the company felt the measure passed was more reasonable than the original proposal, which did not include exceptions for lounges or filming.
There are no national regulations on electronic cigarettes, which were only invented 10 years ago. As a result, use by teens in many areas is skyrocketing, having doubled from 2011 to 2012. At the federal level, the Food and Drug Administration has proposed bringing them under its jurisdiction, just like tobacco products. Right now, e-cigarettes are sold without a licenses in a variety of retail locations. Twenty-five percent of sales are reportedly online. In addition, since there is no “smoke” or tobacco, e-cigarettes are currently allowed to advertise on television, which NJOY did during the Super Bowl.
States and cities are taking action on their own. Chicago and New York have already restricted their use. Utah has pending legislation to require stores that sell e-cigarettes to be licenses and restrict sales to people age 19 and over.
The e-cigarette debate promises to heat up as more cities and states consider legislation and, eventually, the federal government takes action. The debate in the LA City Council yesterday showed the strong feelings both ways on e-cigarette bans, which shows just how popular their use has become.
By Dyanne Weiss
Los Angeles Times
One thought on “LA City Council Bans E-Cigarettes”
I am a new resident in Santa Monica and just learned about this a few days ago when I was told, at a restaurant, that I couldn’t vape and that the police is only too happy to hand out stiff fines to violators are observed vaping near a food truck. I’ve vaped for a year and asked many physicians about the health risk. Not a single one objected to vaping or indicated that there is a health concern. Nicotine in and by itself is not a dangerous substance. The studies that I am aware of (U.S. and Germany) did not indicate a health risk. The case for this new ban becomes all the more bogus considering that I can wipe my patio furniture once a week and discover a thick layer of pitch black soot, clearly indicating that action is required on other fronts. Add the fact that I can see a “Weed doctor”, say my pinky hurts, and obtain a script for a hallucinogenic. I am allowed to drive, high as a kite, and stink of weed next to a food truck where any child might as well get used to the scent. No problems there. I’m not even going to get into the issue of alcohol which by now should be apparent to even the least educated among us, is an addictive, mind altering and all-around dangerous drug. No problem there either. So the question becomes one of motive. One can safely rule out health concerns being at the root of the city councils’ decisions; so what’s left? The argument that water vapor seeps through the skin and that people must be protected from such vapor is insulting in virtue of its stupidity. If that argument is sincerely held and if it is de facto the one that was given, then I submit that the people on the council should resign their positions and find work more suitable to their limited intellect. Could it be that the motive is one far less profound? i.e. If we can’t tax them, we won’t let them have it? Rather than speculate, I’d be interested to learn the real reason behind this legislation. In the meantime, I will simply not frequent any restaurants. PS, after the dissolution of the east-German government, records were released that proved that government actually contemplated whether it was appropriate to raise or lower the hemlines of skirts that were made available for purchase. This e-cig legislation in Los Angeles, Santa Monica and Long Beach is going in the same direction, where bureaucrats dictate arbitrarily.
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