San Diego Looks to Ban E-Cigs

County board approves amendment to limit public vaping

Published in Tobacco E-News

By  Melissa Vonder Haar, Tobacco Editor

SAN DIEGO --It would appear that the promise of federal electronic cigarette regulations based on scientific evidence has done little to slow the passage of more extreme legislation on the local level: just weeks after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced its proposed deeming regulations, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors tentatively approved an amendment that would ban use of electronic cigarettes in any area where smoking is banned, including county buildings, parks and public buildings in unincorporated areas.

"The public is lacking information about the risk of the exposure to these devices," Supervisor Dave Roberts told San Diego 6 News. "I believe that the county, as stewards of public health, we have to limit the public's exposure to potentially harmful vapors."

Vape shop owner Erik Johnson urged the board not to rush its decision. "I understand that there is a need for some regulation, but it needs to be reasonable. It needs to be in the best interest of everyone," he told the news outlet.

Supervisor Ron Roberts defended the vote, arguing that the country did not "blindly run into" the regulations and that no studies have proven the safety of electronic cigarette usage.

"Sometimes when new technologies are introduced there is a response, and not a proper vetting of the issue," Roberts told San Diego 6 News. "In this instance, there has been a proper vetting, and I think we've done our homework."

Supervisor Bill Horn said that more research on the effects of electronic cigarettes needs to be conducted--but he still supports the ban because he believes different policies for e-cigarettes and tobacco cigarettes would be difficult to enforce.

"It's a valuable tool, I think, for people to quit smoking," he told the news outlet. "But it's not appropriate on my public facilities."

The amendment--which the supervisors first requested in March--will not be officially approved until a second vote takes place on May 20, said the report.