City Councilmembers Mitch O’Farrell, Paul Koretz, and Bernard Parks, in collaboration with City Attorney Mike Feuer, introduced a motion that will regulate the use of electronic smoking devices in areas where smoking tobacco is currently prohibited by law.
These smoke-free locations include restaurants, public parks, playgrounds, beaches, schools, daycare centers and libraries.
Electronic cigarette devices are known to contain many chemicals, along with nicotine, including volatile organic compounds, such as benzene and toulene; heavy metals, such as nickel and arsenic; tobacco specific carcinogens; and carbon compounds such as formaldehyde and acrolein. In California, over 40 cities and counties have enacted laws to regulate the use of electronic smoking devices in some outdoor areas.
"I've been hearing the calls for help from schools all across the 13th District which have been left to deal with enforcement on their own," said Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell, who chairs the Arts, Parks, Health, Aging, and LA River committee. "We know that the vapor from nicotine is toxic. We have an obligation as a community to look out for the health and well being of students and those around them."
“Today is a vital step forward for the cause of public health,” said Councilmember Paul Koretz. “The City of Los Angeles is doing exactly the right thing, by creating a sound and logical regulatory framework for e-cigarette sales and use. I’m especially concerned that many people and businesses presently think it’s perfectly OK for young people to purchase and try e-cigarettes. Our entire nation, my family included, has had a tragic past associated with tobacco products and that’s primarily due to young people getting hooked and launched into a lifetime of poor health and too often an early death. We don’t know enough about e-cigarettes to fully understand what dangers they pose, but the last thing any of us should do is look the other way when tobacco products are being introduced, and that’s why today’s motions are essential.”
"I fully support the efforts of the Los Angeles City Council and the City Attorney to expand its long held position on anti smoking legislation and access to such harmful cancer causing materials,” said City Councilmember Bernard Parks. “Much thanks should go to former Councilmember Marvin Braude who started this city on this journey several decades ago. These "new" e-cigarettes are merely a diversion to mislead the public regarding the true negative health dangers of smoking. I personally appreciate that this motion will cover all of the existing areas that are currently illegal for cigarettes smoking. There is still much to be done in continuing the city's efforts to reduce access to second hand smoke and access to cigarettes and e-cigarettes close to schools.”
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has urged 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.”
“We know that e-cigarettes contain harmful ingredients,” said City Attorney Mike Feuer. “Until they are proven safe we need to take action.”
The City Council also unanimously approved an ordinance authored by Councilmember Koretz and seconded by Councilmember O’Farrell, at today’s meeting which makes the permitting requirements for the sale of tobacco products equally applicable to those selling emergent tobacco products such as electronic cigarettes, hookah pens and food products.
In order to reduce accessibility to these products by youth, sales will be banned from self-service displays, street sales and mobile vending such as ice cream trucks and food carts.
PHOTO: Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell shows reporters a confiscated e-cigarette from a district-area school during a news conference with the City Attorney.