COUNTY SUPERVISORS WEIGH RESTRICTIONS ON SMOKING AND VAPING

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By Miriam Raftery

October 15, 2019 (San Diego) – Today, County Supervisors will vote on a recommendation by Supervisors Dianne Jacob and Nathan Fletcher that would ask the Chief Administrative Officer to draft a recommended ordinance within 60 days aimed at protecting the public from a “public health crisis” linked to smoking including vaping products and more. The recommendations include restrictions on smoking and e-cigarettes or vaping products that would apply to all unincorporated parts of San Diego County.

The agenda item report cites a rise in youth smoking due to vaping as well as 1,080 cases of serious lung damage and 19 deaths believed caused by vaping or e-cigarette use. This includes 22 confirmed or likely Vaping Associated Pulmonary Injury (VAPI) It also notes that smoking causes over 480,000 deaths each year and secondhand smoke cause another 41,000 preventable deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The proposed ordinance would permanently ban sale and distribution of all flavored “smoking” products.  It would also establish a one-year moratorium on sale and distribution of all electronic smoking devices, and prohibit all smoking in outdoor dining patio areas, with a buffer zone outside of outdoor dining patios.

In addition, it directs the Chief Administrative Officer to return to the board within 180 days with recommendations to establish a tobacco retail licensing program to strengthen enforcement against retailers selling to minors and to conduct a vaping public health awareness campaign.

According to the California Department of Health, one in five high school seniors reported vaping in the past month—double the number in 2017.  Teens and young adults make up about half of the people hospitalized in California due to lung injury illnesses tied to vaping, and nearly a third of cases require people to use mechanical assistance to breathe. Public health officials are also concerned about impacts of nicotine and other chemicals on young people’s developing brains.