CITYWIDE ‚Äî E-cigarette smokers, the clock is ticking. You have about a month left to puff those battery-powered vaporizers while riding the Ferris wheel, sitting at a bar, or on the beach. Make the most of it.
City Council voted unanimously to adopt an ordinance that will treat the e-cigarettes like traditional tobacco cigarettes in all but a few instances.
Traditional tobacco cigarettes are heavily regulated in the city by the sea. They are banned near doorways, in the parks, on the beach, and even ‚Äî for new tenants ‚Äî in apartments.
Currently “vaping” is allowed anywhere in the city, including inside bars and restaurants.
E-cigarettes, council members have said, make it harder for city officials to enforce the smoking ban. From a distance, they say, a vaporizer looks like a traditional cigarette.
Furthermore, council members expressed fear that e-cigarettes, which come in flavors like cotton candy and gummy bear, could entice kids to use them, thereby introducing them to a nicotine addiction.
Council heard from about a dozen speakers during the public input portion of the item and they all spoke in favor of the ban.
“Congratulation on the raved reviews,” Councilmember Ted Winterer said to the city officials in charge of crafting the ordinance. “I can‚Äôt remember the last time we had a staff report that everyone got up and spoke in favor of.”
Councilmember Bob Holbrook, who has been supportive of the ordinance since it was presented following Los Angeles‚Äô regulation of the products earlier this year, noted that Hall of Fame baseball player Tony Gwynn died recently as a result of tobacco use.
“I‚Äôve been a pharmacist and I‚Äôm in my 50th year,” he said, “and it‚Äôs incredible that nicotine is considered either the number one or number two most addictive drug that they know of. It‚Äôs either nicotine or heroin.”
The ordinance bans vaping in vaping lounges, with the exception of the two already in existence ‚Äî Fix Vapor on Main Street and Vapor Delight on Lincoln Boulevard. They‚Äôll be required to have proper ventilation systems so they don‚Äôt bother the neighboring businesses.
City officials, using an American Heart Association meta-study that combined the results from 84 peer-reviewed papers, looked at the impacts of e-cigs earlier this year and found the data to be inconclusive.
“There is not conclusive evidence that electronic cigarettes are an effective device for quitting smoking though there are certainly examples,” City Attorney Adam Radinsky told council at the time.
Still, Radinsky continued, there are advantages to the vaporizers.
“There are a lot of unanswered questions about safety,” he said. “The one thing that does seem clear, that all parties can agree on: Electronic cigarettes are safer than cigarettes by a long-shot both for the user and others in the vicinity.”
The ordinance goes into effect 30 days after its adoption.