[California] ~ The Butte County Board of Supervisors will seek to update the counties smoking regulation to include electronic cigarettes during its Tuesday meeting. County staff noted the county’s smoking rules were last updated in 1992 and predate the development of electronic cigarettes and vaporizing devices.
Cathy Raevsky, director of the Public Health Department, stated the primary goal of the requested change is to add e-cigarettes the regulation prohibiting smoking in workplaces and enclosed public spaces in unincorporated Butte County. “We did feel like we really needed to update this so it is more current with the times,” Raevsky said. She went on to state the cities of Oroville and Paradise have already updated their smoking rules to include e-cigarettes.
The Chico City Council is expected to consider final adoption of their rules next month. Raevsky added that state lawmakers are considering restrictions on vaping devices, but local officials would like to enact something if the state fails to act.
She said e-cigarettes have surged in popularity, with use among high school students tripling nationwide in recent years. While the harmful effects of the devices aren’t fully known, she didn’t want to see another generation cope with becoming ill or dying due to use related to smoking.
Although e-cigarettes are being promoted as being safer than regular cigarettes, she said there can still be risks. “Safe is a relative term and we have a whole lot of young teenagers who are vaping.”
According to county information, vapor from e-cigarettes contain cancer-causing chemicals as well as very small particulate matter that can enter the lungs and harm the body. Studies elsewhere might prove other wise; that e-cigarettes hold no toxic effect. E-cigarette products often contain nicotine, which officials say is an addictive neurotoxin that can cause birth defects.
Raevsky said there have also been an increasing number of reports of small children being exposed to vaping liquid. Nationwide, there were about 215 calls per month to poison control centers in 2014.
Another reason for the requested rule change is due to the fact e-cigarette usage can erode smoke-free social norms that have taken decades to develop. Raesky stated device manufacturers promote them as a way to circumvent anti-smoking laws.
In addition to including e-cigarettes in the county code, there were minor recommended changes. One change would refer to restaurants and bars as retail food facilities. The proposed update would officially remove the exemptions that allowed smoking in bars and assembly spaces during private events. California barred smoking in most workplaces back in 1995 and in bars in 1998.
The update would also remove a 90-day grace period. Raevsky said the period was originally in place 23 years ago so businesses could prepare for the change, including finding alternative smoking sites and offering employees smoking cessation programs.
The board meets at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the County Administration Building, 25 County Center Drive, Oroville. For meeting information, agendas and video, browse over to their website.