CARLSBAD — Citing concerns about enforcement, potential health risks and possible risks for minors, Carlsbad banned the smoking of electronic cigarettes, known as “e-cigarettes,” in public spaces.
“It’s our goal to ease the enforcement by ensuring that e-cigarettes are prohibited like other tobacco products,” said City Attorney Celia Brewer, presenting the matter before City Council on Dec. 3.
She explained that e-cigarettes, which are battery-powered devices that produce flavored water vapor for inhaling, are not included under the city’s smoking bans because they do not contain tobacco. Under the current laws, people are legally allowed to smoke e-cigarettes in public areas like libraries and on beaches.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is in the process of developing federal regulations for e-cigarettes, leaving states and local governments to come up with their own regulations in the meantime.
Possible regulations of e-cigarettes will come before the San Diego County Board of Supervisors sometime in February, but some cities within the county, including Del Mar and Solana Beach, have already banned smoking the devices in public places.
Carlsbad’s proposed ban cited concerns about the lack of studies about the health risks of smoking and being exposed to the vapor from e-cigarettes.
A 2009 preliminary study of e-cigarettes by the FDA determined that there are levels of carcinogens and toxic chemicals within the devices.
Carlsbad Police Chief Gary Morrison stated that because different types of liquids can be inhaled with e-cigarettes, officers have no way of knowing what exactly is in an individual device.
Every speaker at the City Council meeting voiced support for the ban, citing concerns that the devices are designed to appeal to teens and children.
“(E-cigarettes) are available in flavors that appeal to teens like cotton candy, chocolate,” said Gena Knutson, the tobacco control program manager for the Vista Community Clinic.
Referring to e-cigarettes as “gateway devices,” Mayor Pro Tem Mark Packard said, “They are clearly marketed to youth and children.”
When City Council unanimously voted in support of the ban, several audience members at the meeting broke into applause.