The Carlsbad City Council recently voted to join the ranks of North County communities which have banned the use of popular electronic cigarettes in public spaces. This action follows the lead of both Solana Beach and Del Mar who had previously passed similar bans in their cities.
Electronic cigarettes also referred to as “e-cigarettes” and “e-cigs”, have become quite popular in recent years, both for smokers who are trying to give up traditional cigarettes, and those searching for a more publically-accepted alternative. These devices use battery-powered heating elements to convert liquid into smokeless water vapor. A number of different types of liquids can be used in the e-cigarettes, most commonly ones which are infused with nicotine and various flavors ranging from menthol to fruits such as grape and apple. Additional options include tastes such as cotton candy and cola.
The initial proposal for the ban on these devices in Carlsbad was based on the concerned health risks of using them, as well as those of being exposed to their vapor second-hand. Since they do not contain any actual tobacco, e-cigs are not regulated under existing tobacco laws. In 2009, the Food and Drug Administration conducted studies finding that in standard use, electronic cigarettes contain both toxic chemicals and carcinogens. The FDA is currently working to establish federal regulations for the devices and the liquid used within them, but until then state and local governments are left with the responsibility of ensuring their residents’ safety.
In addition to their primary concerns, many council members and attendees at the recent meeting expressed worry that these electronic cigarettes were being marketed towards children with the availability of fruity and sweet-flavored liquids like guava, white chocolate and even the holiday-themed eggnog option.
Following the discussion of the topic at the meeting, City Council members voted unanimously for the ban of the devices in any public space.
In February, the San Diego Board of Supervisors is slated to weigh and propose possible county-wide regulation of electronic cigarettes, but these bans passed by Carlsbad, other North County communities and cities all throughout the region show that many citizens and policy makers are eager to get the ball rolling even sooner.