Extends smoking regulations to e-cigarettes…
SM votes to extend smoking regulations to e-cigarettes
THEIR USE NO LONGER ALLOWED INSIDE PUBLIC BUILDINGS OR BUSINESSES
The Santa Maria City Council passed an ordinance Tuesday to include e-cigarettes, or vapes, in its public smoking ban.
The vote was unanimous and makes Santa Maria the second city between San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara to explicitly define e-cigarettes in the same way as regular ones.
E-cigarette smokers will no longer be able to vape in businesses, public buildings, enclosed public spaces or within a “reasonable distance” of the entrances to public buildings, according to City Attorney Gilbert Trujillo.
The ordinance doesn’t include places like sidewalks and parks and also doesn’t apply to tobacco stores, residences or hotel rooms.
City Librarian Mary Housel asked Trujillo to weigh in on the subject after a patron was found using an e-cigarette in the stacks at the public library, he said.
Nine people argued against the move during public comment, saying that switching to e-cigarettes helped them to quit smoking, improved their health and that the odor from the devices is more fragrant than regular cigarettes. Some, like Deborah Shoults, asked the council not to approve the ordinance because it would force vapers to stand in the path of the kind of secondhand smoke many used to produce themselves.
“My problem with having it classified as (the same as) a cigarette is having us put in … designated smoking areas,” Shoults said. “To me, that would be very offensive, if I were to have to sit with somebody who’s smoking.”
Housel said she didn’t agree with the distinction.
“As far as I’m concerned, a cigarette’s a cigarette,” she said.
Councilmember Jack Boysen, who said he used bicycling to quit smoking, said he voted for the ordinance because it wouldn’t necessarily keep vapers from using the devices.
“I don’t think we’re doing anything here to prevent you from utilizing these e-cigarettes in a legal manner,” Boysen said. “All we’re doing is saying you can’t do it sitting in the library, you can’t do it sitting in the City Hall building. I heard people talking about being respectful, and I think that’s great and obviously I certainly encourage that. But the person that’s sitting over there in our public library, sitting next to a child trying to read, puffing on an e-cigarette … it’s just not appropriate.”
Stanton Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco, said research can’t yet answer many questions about how harmful e-cigarettes are but that they’re generally less damaging than regular smoking.
“They’re not as bad as a cigarette, but they’re still polluting the air,” he said.
Glantz said there isn’t a scientific conclusion yet as to whether the activity leads to cancer or heart problems, but that certain known facts indicate that it could. E-cigarettes produce ultrafine particles that research has shown have an affect on heart disease, irritate lungs and contain carcinogens, he said. Further, the aerosol that e-cigarettes put into the air contains nicotine and can include metals that come from the heating device.
Buellton adopted the same recognition in 2012, while Pismo Beach’s city attorney said their definition should be broad enough to include them. San Luis Obispo is considering a similar measure to Santa Maria, and Los Angeles formally included e-cigarettes in their codes Tuesday as well. City officials in Lompoc, Grover Beach, Solvang and Santa Barbara said they don’t recognize e-cigarettes in their codes.