Photos: Supervisors Dave Roberts, left, coauthor of the measure, and Bill Horn who voted against the regulations.
By Nadin Abbott
March 11, 2014 (San Diego) –Citing health concerns, Supervisors today voted 3-1 to regulate electronic cigarettes and vaping devices. In addition, a proposal to ban these devices in all County buildings will be brought before the Council in May. Supervisor Bill Horn voted against the measure and Supervisor Ron Roberts was absent.
In the last 10 years, the use of electronic cigarettes and “vaping” devices have increased around the nation. Some of these devices will deliver nicotine and are technically known as Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS). Some can take cartridges with flavored liquids that do not have a nicotine content. These are known as personal vaporizers, or Vapers. Both have heating elements. Some simulate cigarettes in appearance, while others resemble marking pens or asthma inhalers.
On November 5, 2013 Supervisors Ron Roberts and Dave Roberts instructed County Staff to come up with a new policy to address these increasingly popular devices. Both Supervisors asked staff to take into account the Live Well policy, which includes smoking, as part of the background for this policy review. You can read the full letter here:
The County did this review of Policy A-99 (Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation). A new language will add both Hookah and Electronic cigarettes, and Vaporizers to the smoking policy.
Before the vote, and testimony by interested members of the Public, County Health gave a report that included state of the research to date. Staff pointed out that according to the World Health Organization, these devices have not been proven safe.
They also addressed the concern of these devices becoming gateways for children to become future smokers.
“Sales of electronic cigarettes in the U.S. have tripled in recent years to 1.7 billion,” staff reported, adding that use according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has “more than doubled” among middle school and High School students to 6.8%.
Staff also emphasized that some electronic devices are currently included in the County Policy. But this change in policy will also address electronic vaporizers.
The staff report emphasized that the safety of electronic cigarettes has not been established, tough it is already known that nicotine has adverse health effects. Staff also cited Food & Drug Administration studies that have found the liquids contain heavy metals, carcinogens, volatile organic compounds and other elements leading to lung problems. They are also present in the vapor released by these devices.
While electronic cigarettes contain less harmful chemicals than cigarettes, this does not mean that they are safe, nor have studies on these devices proven they are safe.
What is also a concern is that these devices are marketed with fruit flavors, as well as other appeals to youth. This point was emphasized by several of the people testifying after staff was done.
Among them was Jean Duffy of Drug Free Julian. She told the board that “those devices are not just to smoke nicotine, but also marijuana.” She added that the main concern of her organization was “the health and safety of our people.” Duffy also touched on the access that children have to these devices and that while teachers can do something about youth smoking, they cannot do anything when youth use vaporizers.
Laurie Lozan, a fourth grade teacher emphasized that E-Cigs are “marketed to kids, including through angry birds.”
In this letter from the Attorney General Association to the FDA we find a direct reference to this: “Finally, e-cigarette manufacturers, such as White Cloud Cigarettes, offer reusable e-cigarette “skins” -- known as Vapor Jackets -- that are intended to make the e-cigarette desirable or fashionable and are available in a variety of patterns that appeal to children, one of which uses images from the popular video game, Angry Birds.”
Here are the skins:
There were 18 speakers in favor of the regulations, with nobody opposed. Those in favor included representatives from the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society and the American Lung Association.
Supervisors voted for the change in the policy, as well as an added proposal by Supervisor Dave Roberts to come back in May to ban the use of these devices in all County facilities, as has already been done with cigarettes.