City Council Votes to Ban E-Cigarette Use in Public Areas

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The Los Angeles City Council moved today to ban e-
cigarette use, often called “vaping,” inside bars, nightclubs, restaurants
and other public areas where tobacco smoking is restricted.
The council voted 14-0 to approve the ordinance prohibiting vaping at
farmers’ markets, parks, recreational areas, beaches, indoor workplaces such as
bars and nightclubs, outdoor dining areas and other places where lighting up is
banned.
Vaping lounges and stores will be exempted from the ban, similar to
exceptions made for cigar and hookah lounges under tobacco smoking regulations.
E-cigarettes used for “theatrical purposes” will also be allowed.
The prohibition still requires approval from the mayor.
A motion by Councilman Joe Buscaino that would have allowed
consideration of an exemption for bars failed on a 8-6 vote.
Buscaino, in pushing for the amendment, argued that while he supported
keeping e-cigarettes out of the hands of minors, the ban at bars would tread on
the rights of adults to use e-cigarettes.
“Although e-cigarettes look like cigarettes, they are not tobacco, and
I don’t think they should be regulated exactly the same way,” he said, adding,
“I’ve heard from so many people … that they’ve stopped smoking because of e-
cigarettes.”
The battery-powered devices, which have been marketed as smoking-
cessation aids, enable users to inhale a nicotine-laced vapor.
Some city and public health officials say not enough is known about the
effects of chemicals contained in the liquids. Supporters of the regulation
point to studies indicating that chemicals considered harmful by the Food and
Drug Administration — such as nickel, lead and chromium — have been detected
in e-cigarettes.
“Safer does not mean safe,” Dr. Jonathan Fielding, the county’s public
health director, told the council. “Although they are less harmful than
traditional cigarettes, some e-cigarettes contains some health risks.”
Fielding added that e-cigarette sales have grown into a “$1.5 billion
industry that has caught the attention of big tobacco, which historically has
had scant regard for public health.”
Councilman Paul Koretz, who proposed the ban with Councilman Mitch
O’Farrell and with support from Councilman Bernard Parks, said e-cigarettes,
which are flavored in bubble gum, fruit and other similar flavors, are being
marketed to youth.
“I am most concerned about kids,” Koretz said. “We all know this is
being marketed to kids, getting some kids who don’t smoke tobacco to start.”
The passage of the ban followed a lengthy debate, with several council
members questioning everything from the science behind the health effects of e-
cigarettes to the rights of adults to use a device that is potentially harmful
but legal.
Councilman Bob Blumenfield, part of a minority group of six members who
voted to consider Buscaino’s amendment to exempt bars from the ban’s reach,
asked how the effects of ultra-fine particles, carcinogens and other toxins
found in some e-cigarettes compare to those found in “common, everyday”
sources such as laser printers, coffee, frying bacon and camp fires.
USC professor Lourdes Baezconde-Garbanati, serving on a panel of experts
supporting the ban, responded that it was the combination of unregulated
chemicals in e-cigarettes that raises concern that they may be dangerous.
The contents of individual e-cigarettes can also “vary wildly,” she said.
The Food and Drug Administration is studying the devices, but regulation
by the agency could “take years to do,” while the council can take action
today, Baezconde-Garbanati said.
Councilman Paul Krekorian, who also voted to consider exempting bars
from the vaping ban, said the City Council is not equipped to weigh in on the
safety of e-cigarettes and that it would be better to leave the decision to an
agency like county health or the FDA that employ staff able to scientifically
evaluate the devices.
Councilmen Mitchell Englander, Felipe Fuentes and Curren Price Jr. also
voted to consider the bar exemption.
Both supporters and critics of the wider ban that was ultimately passed
agreed that studies on e-cigarette vapor is minimal, compared with what is
available for tobacco smoke.
For Buscaino, the lack of “conclusive evidence that secondhand vapor
from e-cigarettes is harmful” means that the council should not “be in any
hurry to put so many restrictions on where and how adults — again, adults —
can use a legal product.”
Councilwoman Nury Martinez, meanwhile, said it was better to err on the
side of caution.
“If this device turns out to be safe, then we can always undo
ordinances,” she said. “But if the device proves not to be safe, we cannot
undo the harm that this would create on public health.”
Council President Herb Wesson made a plea to move forward with the wider
ban, recalling the debate surrounding the dangers of tobacco smoking.
When he started smoking, Wesson said, “there was no damn warning,” and
even when it was a “known fact that cigarettes cause problems, there was no
warning.”
After a warning was finally placed on cigarette packages, “even then,
because of the lobby in Washington, no one actually could tell the truth,”
Wesson said.

Summary
City Council Could Ban E-Cigarette Usage in Public Areas
Article Name
City Council Could Ban E-Cigarette Usage in Public Areas
Description
E-cigarette use -- often called ``vaping'' -- would be banned at bars, nightclubs, restaurants and some other public areas under an ordinance to be taken up by the Los Angeles City Council today.
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