The Oceanside City Council on April 2 voted unanimously to advance an ordinance banning electronic smoking devices where traditional cigarettes are outlawed and restricting unaccompanied minors’ access to some businesses that sell them.
Cited in the proposed ordinance was a Center for Disease Control and Prevention survey that found the number of minors using the electronic or battery-operated devices to consume nicotine or other substances had doubled between 2011 and 2012. The flavors also appeal to kids and teens, the city document stated.
“This is a use that should be regulated and should be treated exactly like tobacco,” Deputy Mayor Esther Sanchez said. Devices that use a heating element to vaporize a flavored liquid solution that could contain nicotine will be deemed unacceptable at beaches, public parks, the pier, and in public places or in places of employment.
Solana Beach, Encinitas, Vista, El Cajon, and Poway already regulate where “vapers” can use the devices, which are marketed as electronic cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, pipes or hookahs, according to City Attorney John Mullen. The San Diego County Board of Supervisors is set to consider a similar ordinance next month.
The city also plans to expand its definition of a “tobacco and drug paraphernalia establishment” to include businesses selling electronic smoking devices, such as "vape shops," thus making them off limits to kids and teens not accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Fabiola Elias-Ramsey, owner of Feels Good Vapor, said she would take “extreme issue” if her business was lumped in with drug paraphernalia shops. Her some 2,000 new patrons in the past three months, she said, were people who are no longer smoking traditional cigarettes in Oceanside.
Councilman Jerome Kern said he encouraged every adult smoker to switch over to electronic smoking devices, but the ordinance was designed to keep kids from “going down that path.”
Additionally, Mullen asked the council to consider in a future action amending zoning regulations to mandate certain shops that sell the devices apply for a conditional use permit subjecting them to strict restrictions on locations and spacing.
Businesses that confine the products to a less than four-by-two foot section would be exempted. Mullen said existing businesses would likely meet the definition of a grandfathered use and would not require an additional permit.