CITY HALL — Vapor may join smoke on City Hall’s list of regulated exhalents.
On Tuesday, Santa Monica’s City Council will consider directing City Hall to amend its smoking ordinance to regulate electronic cigarettes in the same way as traditional cigarettes.
Back in March, just weeks after Los Angeles and Beverly Hills enacted e-cigarette regulations, council asked city officials to study e-cigarettes and come back with the information.
The battery-powered vaporizers, which deliver aerosol nicotine, are marketed as an easy way to kick tobacco.
In its staff report, city officials recommend that council treat cigarettes like e-cigarettes, citing numerous reasons.
City Hall’s research calls into question the claim that e-cigarettes help smokers quit smoking traditional cigarettes. It presents the possibility that an e-cigarette itself poses a health risk. They point to one study, which shows that it’s possible to inhale secondhand nicotine from the e-cigarettes.
From an enforcement standpoint, City Hall said, the e-cigarettes pose a challenge.
“Since it is difficult to distinguish the two, if e-cigarettes are allowed in locations where cigarettes are prohibited, then both government and private enforcement will be hampered,” city officials said in the report.
The e-cigarettes could serve as a gateway to traditional smoking, city officials said, and, according to studies, they are being marked toward children, in part, through flavors like cotton candy and gummy bears.
If the e-cigarettes are treated like traditional smokes it “would effectively prohibit the use of the devices in all locations where cigarette smoking currently is prohibited,” city officials said.
“It would also require businesses that sell e-cigarettes to comply with the City’s Tobacco Retailer Licensing law,” city officials continued. “Staff does not recommend creating a separate exemption from the indoor workplace smoking law for vaping lounges.”
Currently, there are two licensed vaping establishments in Santa Monica, city officials said.
In 2012, City Hall voted to ban smoking in apartments for new tenants in the city. At the time, tenants could declare their unit a “smoking” unit and continue to smoke. But anyone who moved in after November of 2012 is prohibited from smoking in his or her apartment.
In 2010, Santa Monica banned smoking in all common spaces, according to Daily Press archives.
That term covers all indoor and outdoor locations accessible to occupants of more than one unit and all outdoor locations within 25 feet of a door, window or vent, including most balconies and patios.
Smoking is currently banned on the Third Street Promenade and the Santa Monica Pier.
There is currently nothing prohibiting the smoking of e-cigarettes inside at bars and restaurants.
If council agrees with the recommendations, city officials will come back with official language later this year.