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San Diego County Supervisors To Consider Developing Policy On Electronic Cigarettes

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Two South Beach Smoke disposable electronic cigarettes.

SAN DIEGO — The San Diego County Board of Supervisors Tuesday will consider whether to have staff develop a policy on electronic cigarettes.

The so-called "ecigarettes,'' or vapor inhalers, allow people to puff on synthetic nicotine without also taking in tar and other harmful substances common to regular cigarettes. The battery-operated devices, which are available for purchase on the Internet, do not use tobacco.

Supervisors Dave Roberts and Ron Roberts will ask their colleagues to direct staff to review how ecigarettes fit into the board's policy on smoking and tobacco use.

In a letter to fellow board members, they wrote that use of the devices could undermine county smoking regulations and eliminate the social norm that smoking is no longer acceptable in public places or at work.

They quoted a U.S. Centers for Disease Control study that found the use of ecigarettes among middle and high school students had doubled between 2011 and last year, and that 1.78 million of them have tried the devices.

"One worry is that electronic vapor devices are often marketed in appealing -- fruit and candy-like -- flavors, which can be a tactic for enticing youth to use the product,'' the supervisors wrote in their letter.

"This increases the potential for nicotine addiction among young people.''

They said use of the inhalers might lead youth to try conventional tobacco products. The Food and Drug Administration is also concerned that the devices are being sold to young people due to their accessibility online and via mall kiosks, the supervisors said.

The city of Vista has banned the use of ecigarettes in public areas where smoking is prohibited, and the Sweetwater Union High School District has added vapor devices to its smoking policy.

The supervisors will also consider purchasing property for a future Palomar Mountain Fire Station and a proposal to streamline procedures for adopting children.

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