SANTA ROSA (CBS SF) — The unincorporated areas of Sonoma County will soon be included in a growing list of places where “vaping” of electronic cigarettes is banned in some public areas and establishments.
The county’s Board of Supervisors Tuesday passed on first reading an amendment to an existing ordinance that prohibits smoking tobacco and the presence of second hand smoke in some public areas.
The amendment adds electronic smoking devices, known as e-cigs, to the ordinance. A second reading and vote is scheduled for June 24.
The electronic cigarettes rely on fluid containing nicotine and a heating element to create a vapor that is inhaled and exhaled instead of tobacco smoke.
The amended ordinance contends the exhaled vapors contain chemicals and carcinogens and that the flavorful liquids in the devices induce non-tobacco smoking youth to become addicted to nicotine.
“This is such a sales job by the tobacco industry. It’s SAD, seduction, addiction and deception,” Supervisor Shirlee Zane said.
Proponents of electronic cigarettes say the devices enable tobacco smokers to quit by gradually reducing the percentage of nicotine in the fluid, and the vapors do not contain the lethal chemical soup present in tobacco smoke.
“Having a safer form of cigarette smoke is still bad for your health,” Supervisor Mike McGuire said.
Brian Vaughn, director of the Department of Health Services’ Health Policy, Planning and Evaluation Division, said the e-cig amendment to the existing smoke free ordinance is “modest.” He said it does not prohibit vapin, or vaping, in apartment complexes where cigarette smoking is banned.
Electronic cigarette advertising targets youth, creates the impression e-cigs are safe and promotes the idea they can be used anywhere, Vaughn said in his power-point presentation to the supervisors.
He said carcinogenic substances are found in the fluid, many of which have fruit flavors, and that it is becoming more common to vape marijuana, hash oil and marijuana wax with high THC levels.
Vaughn said vapin has not shown greater success with smoking cessation and it is not approved by the Federal Drug Administration to quit smoking.
Since the county passed the smoking ordinance in 2011, there has been market growth and a proliferation of e-cigs among youth, strong advertisement and media presence and more calls to County Tobacco Control, Vaughn said.
Health concerns about e-cigs include nicotine addiction and the impact on brain development among youth and secondhand smoke, Vaughn said.
Twenty-eight states, including California, have banned the sales of e-cigs to minors, three states have banned e-cigs in work places, bars and restaurants, and Sebastopol and Petaluma have included e-cigs in their bans on smoking in public, Vaughn said.
The county’s amended ordinance bans e-cigs in areas where smoking already is banned, including dining areas, recreational areas, public events, service areas and in areas within a reasonable distance from any place where smoking is already prohibited.
Smoking is allowed in designated smoking areas in recreational areas and at public events.
Erick Beall, manager of Digital Cigzz in Santa Rosa, said the supervisors were “acting on a lot of unfounded and un-factual information.”
Beall said 60 to 70 percent of Digital Ciggz’s customers use e-cigs to help them quit smoking, and all his customers are adults.
“I am surrounded by the happiest customers who are part of the 20 million people who fought and won quitting the hardest addiction,” Beall said.
“If they look under 30, we card them. If they don’t have an ID they can’t set a foot in our establishment,” Beall said regarding claims that e-cig businesses and advertising are targeting youth.
He said vaping is an adult activity and is a successful method of quitting tobacco smoking.
“We’re not trying to get youth hooked,” he said.
According to Beall, there is no scientific evidence any of the exhaled vapor of e-cigs are harmful to people standing nearby.
The amended ordinance will not affect Digital Cigzz’s business at its two Santa Rosa locations, Beall said.
“We tell our customers to treat e-cigs as you treat cigarettes.
Don’t smoke by people in public,” Beall said.
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