On March 4, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to ban electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, in workplaces and public areas like parks and beaches.
The law also bans e-cigarettes in adult establishments like bars and nightclubs. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is expected to sign the measure into law in the coming days. Los Angeles’ e-cigarette laws will soon become as restrictive as its cigarette smoking laws, making the city’s e-cigarette laws some of the toughest in the country.
E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices in which a flavored liquid solution is heated to produce a vapor that is inhaled. The solutions do not contain tobacco products and no smoke is produced. However, the health effects of e-cigarettes are uncertain. Research has not yet shown whether secondhand vapor emissions from e-cigarettes are harmful to others.
Why Los Angeles Chose to Ban E-Cigarettes
The unanimous 14-0 city council vote came after several councilmen shared their personal experiences with tobacco and nicotine products. Council President Herb Wesson stated, “I will not support anything – anything – that might attract one new smoker.”1 Wesson’s sentiments, echoed by opponents of e-cigarettes, illustrate the fear that young people who get hooked on the nicotine in e-cigarettes may then turn to conventional cigarettes and other tobacco products.
The belief that e-cigarettes is within the definition of tobacco products is what is driving the law, as Jonathan Fielding, the director of the Los Angeles Department of Public Health, stated, “We don’t want to risk e-cigarettes undermining a half-century of successful tobacco control.”2
What This Means for E-Cigarettes in Los Angeles
Like conventional cigarettes, e-cigarettes are now banned from restaurants, bars, nightclubs, enclosed workplaces, public parks and public beaches.
E-cigarettes are allowed in “vaping lounges,” where people can try various e-cigarette flavors like chocolate and fruit. They can continue to be sold in smoke shops, though Los Angeles prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes to those under the age of 18.
As a rule of thumb, it is important to treat e-cigarettes as if they are conventional cigarettes in the city of Los Angeles. Smoking cigarettes or e-cigarettes in prohibited places in Los Angeles is an infraction punishable by heavy fines. For example, smoking in an outdoor dining area in a restaurant carries a fine of $500.
Wallin and Klarich Wants to Hear Your Thoughts
At Wallin and Klarich, we are interested in hearing your feedback regarding the new Los Angeles E-cigarette laws. Do you agree or disagree? Are these law to restrictive or are not restrictive enough?
1. [ Los Angeles approves sweeping e-cigarette restrictions, March 4, 2014, http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-los-angeles-ecigarettes-ban-20140304,0,4359853.story#axzz2v2l8Iboh]↩