"Vaping" Banned in LA Bars and Restaurants

"Vaping" Banned in LA Bars and Restaurants

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BY: Jeff Michael/FOX 11 Anchor

Are Los Angeles Councilmembers E-lected to Regulate E-Cigarettes?

I can see how some feel there's something that smells about the Los Angeles City Council going on the crusade against water vapor. Yes, water vapor infused with nicotine but still, vapor that dissipates faster than you can say "Second-hand smoke." That's just it; it's not smoke. The vapor may be deceiving but it doesn't smell, doesn't stay in the air and hasn't been proven to carry all of the carcinogens that cigarettes do. That's because nothing is burning. Many of the toxins that damage lungs come from the smoke. If nicotine was the issue, the FDA last year would not have said that smokers who are trying to quit can safely use over the counter nicotine gum.

Look, I don't like e-cigs particularly. And I don't like the new fruity flavored e-cigs that certainly can appeal to kids. And I worry about the newer styles of vaporizers that can be re-loaded with anything; THC, for example, which is the key intoxicant in marijuana. But the jury is out on many of the facts needed to begin passing laws and ordinances against a product that does have some beneficial use.  I personally have known people who have used e-cigs to quit smoking. I don't think anyone debates that is a good thing. And is this really what we elect local city councils to do? Isn't this why we have the CDC, the FDA and personal responsibility that comes with individual freedom?

LA City Councilmember Nury Martinez reportedly said, "We have a right to… choose to breath clean air…"  Sounds like a solid statement. So councilmembers, how about getting rid of all of the city's gasoline burning vehicles? How about prohibiting two-stroke, oil-burning leaf blowers that pump out more pollution for residents to inhale than every e-cig in the city combined? And that doesn't include the dust and debris they churn into the atmosphere. Oh, that's right. You tried that once but you backed down to gardeners who made you believe that rakes and brooms were torturous.

E-cigs are an easy target. Enforcing the new ban—not nearly as easy and certainly, if the LAPD is given the task, not at all cost-effective or for that matter, likely to happen.  

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The Los Angeles City Council has voted to ban e-cigarette use -- often called "vaping" -- at bars, nightclubs, restaurants and some other public areas.

The council voted 14-0 to approve the ordinance that prohibits vaping at farmers' markets, parks, recreational areas, beaches, indoor workplaces such as bars and nightclubs, outdoor dining areas and other places where lighting up is banned.

Vaping lounges and stores will be exempted from the ban, similar to exceptions made for cigar and hookah lounges under tobacco smoking regulations.

E-cigarettes used for "theatrical purposes" will also be allowed.An amendment by Councilman Joe Buscaino that would have allowed an exemption for bars failed on a 8-6 vote.

Buscaino, in presenting his amendment, argued that while he supported keeping e-cigarettes out of the hands of minors, the ban at bars would tread on the rights of adults to use e-cigarettes.

The battery-powered devices, which have been marketed as smoking-cessation aids, enable users to inhale a nicotine-laced vapor.

Some city and public health officials say not enough is known about the effects of chemicals contained in the liquids. Supporters of the regulation point to studies indicating that chemicals considered harmful by the Food and

Drug Administration -- such as nickel, lead and chromium -- have been detected in e-cigarettes.

"Safer does not mean safe," Dr. Jonathan Fielding, the county's public health director, told the council. "Although they are less harmful than traditional cigarettes, some e-cigarettes contains some health risks."

Fielding added that e-cigarette sales have grown into a "$1.5 billion industry that has caught the attention of big tobacco which historically has had scant regard for public health."

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