SLO may tack e-cigarettes onto smoking ban
March 3, 2015
San Luis Obispo staffers are asking the city council to place a ban on the use of electronic cigarettes.
At its meeting Tuesday, the council will consider a proposed ordinance that would extend the city’s existing smoking ban to the use of e-cigarettes. The proposal would also require retailers to obtain a tobacco sales license in order to sell e-cigarettes in the city.
Smoking is banned in most public places in San Luis Obispo, although enforcement of the regulation is often lax. The use of e-cigarettes, which is considered a form of vaporizing, is exempt from the smoking prohibition.
In January, the California Department of Public Health released a report stating e-cigarettes contain at least 10 chemicals that are known to cause cancer or birth defects. The report called for state lawmakers to regulate the vaporizing devices like traditional cigarettes, and health officials vowed to wage an ideological war on the use of e-cigarettes.
Prior to the release of the report, Democratic Senator Mark Leno introduced a bill that would ban the use of e-cigarettes in places where smoking is prohibited.
At the local level, more than 40 cities and counties in California have already adopted e-cigarette bans, a San Luis Obispo staff report states. Last year, the Santa Maria City Council voted to include e-cigarette use in its smoking ban.
Proponents of a ban lobbied the San Luis Obispo City Council during a February 2014 meeting. The council then directed staff to consider possible regulations for e-cigarette use.
Many e-cigarette users say that vaporizing helps them break their addiction to traditional cigarettes. Opponents of the proposed ban also say that scientific data on the effects of e-cigarettes is conflicting, and that increasing regulation has become problematic.
The council is scheduled to convene at 4 p.m. Tuesday. The e-cigarette ordinance is on the agenda for a council meeting that starts at 6 p.m.
If the council votes in favor of the ordinance Tuesday, it must do so again at an upcoming meeting for the proposal to become city policy.