LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A Los Angeles City Council committee approved a proposal Monday to sharply restrict the use of electronic cigarettes — known as “e-cigarettes” — in no-smoking public areas.
The Arts, Parks, Health, Aging and River Committee recommended the ordinance, which bans e-cigarette use at farmers markets, parks, recreational areas, beaches, bars, nightclubs, and outdoor dining areas, and restricts the sale and use of them in smoking clubs to adults 18 and older.
The committee also approved an amendment by Councilman Mitch O’Farrell that would exempt vaping lounges and film production sets from the ban.
The regulation now goes to a vote by the full city council.
City Attorney Mike Feuer and councilmembers O’Farrell, Paul Koretz, and Bernard Parks proposed the ordinance back in December in response to the surging popularity of the devices, which use battery-powered metal cartridges to simulate the effect of smoking by heating nicotine-containing liquid into vapor.
While some researchers have found e-cigarettes to be less harmful to smokers’ heart function than regular tobacco cigarettes, studies have found the devices to contain benzene, toluene, heavy metals such as nickel and arsenic, and other chemicals in addition to nicotine.
Feuer told KNX 1070 that researchers still have yet to determine the extent to which e-cigarettes may pose a public health threat.
“We don’t know whether the toxics that are contained in the vapor of e-cigarettes is as harmful as tobacco, but we know that that vapor contains known carcinogens,” Feuer said.
Officials with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health have called for amending local smoke-free policies to “prohibit e-cigarette use in existing smoke-free areas, thereby preventing inhalation of secondhand e-cigarette vapors or passive vaping.”
Some e-cigarette makers have raised questions over whether outright prohibition could lead ex-cigarette smokers to relapse, especially before any health risks have been fully determined.
STEM Academy of Hollywood Principal Paul Hirsch, however, charges the e-cigarettes are being marketed to kids.
“There is something very sinister about an industry that is directly targeting young people. Marketing a nicotine product with flavors like chocolate, gummy bear, and cotton candy is just wrong,” he said.
Hirsch also said students are smoking THC and hash oil in the e-cig vapor devices.
“I don’t have the lab facilities on my campus to figure out whether there’s nicotine or not, whether there’s THC or hash. Keep these things out of our schools,” he said.
Some e-cigarette merchants said their customers are older cigarette smokers who are using the e-cigarettes to kick the habit.
“Ninety-five percent of our clientele are people who have been smoking for 10, 20, 30 years. I don’t want kids in my shop. I want people who are trying to help themselves and give themselves a healthier lifestyle, and that’s what we’re trying to promote,” Doug Hughes of Lucky Deuces Vapor Co. said.
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