[California] ~ Electronic cigarettes are quickly replacing cigarettes, and at an alarming rate. While devoid of any true federal legislation, smaller levels of government are on the prowl to devise their own form of governance on something they have not quite fully explored themselves.
Among such smaller levels of government, the Tulare County Health Advisory Committee has presented their recommendations on how to proceed when it comes to e-cigarettes to the Board of Supervisors. In two separate measures, the committee suggested that the County add electronic cigarettes to the current ordinance – stating where cigarettes are and are not allowed to be smoked, and to adopt an ordinance where vaping is not allowed on several fronts. This new ordinance would prohibit the use of e-cigarettes anywhere cigarettes are currently banned as well as prohibit the sale of devices and paraphernalia to minors. Likewise, develop an enforcement clause to ensure the actions stated in the ordinance.
Neither measure met with a unanimous consensus as the board voted 3-2 with supervisors Allen Ishida, District 1, and Mike Ennis, District 5, in dissent of adding e-cigarettes to an already existing ordinance. The board voted in favor of postpone the discussion of adopting the prohibit e-cigarette ordinance , as well as prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. The vote was 4-1 with Vice Chairman Pete Vander Poel in dissent, arguing the ordinance should have been passed at the meeting.
According to medical professional Kathy Johnston who was presenting as a member of the Health Advisory Committee, electronic cigarettes are not adequately researched to be considered safe. Nonetheless, electronic cigarettes are advertised as a safe alternative to cigarettes.
Committee member Dr. Karen Haught, reiterated Johnston’s statements with, “It is not just a harmless water vapor. It is an aerosol that contains many different chemicals, 10 of which are known to cause cancer. It also contains particulate matter that settles in the lungs and can cause inflammation.”
She also noted the addictive substances contained in the liquid used in e-cigarettes. Stating nicotine is highly addictive and adolescents are vulnerable to its toxic effects. She added, that after five minutes of exposure the vapor causes similar symptoms as traditional cigarettes. Her presentation went on to show how the use of e-cigarettes by youths tripled between 2011 and 2013 and 31% of high school juniors in Dinuba, Lindsay, Porterville and Tulare have or are currently smoking e-cigarettes. That is 2% greater than the California average.
The Committee’s proposed ordinance and an ordinance amendment objectives were to hinder the glamorizing vaping behavior to youth, protect those who do not smoke within public places, deter adolescent nicotine addiction, unify local rules for smoking in the workplace, and prevent other dangers.
Supervisor Ishida argued banning the use of cigarettes from parks is a personal freedoms issue. “As someone who has smoked for many years I know that nicotine is an addictive substance but you’re denying me the use of a public facility. I don’t mind a designated area in an open air public area.”
The Board ultimately drove the decision to be tabled for another meeting due to their particularly interested in the designated smoking area. Vice Chairman and founded the Health Advisory Committee, Vander Poel voted not to continue the discussion. One Visalia e-cigarette shop owner approached the Board to note that he has taken many of the measures that the Committee was already recommending.
“Even as a store owner I agree with most of this. I do think that we need a designated smoking and vaping area but I wonder what’s going to happen to my ability to do business with more regulation coming down.”