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San Diego Considering Restrictions On E-Cigarettes

Photo caption: This is an example of an electronic cigarette and the filter end that holds t...

Photo credit: Associated Press

This is an example of an electronic cigarette and the filter end that holds the liquid nicotine solution.

City Council Meeting Details

The San Diego City Council will consider two measures affecting electronic cigarettes.

When: 2 p.m. Monday

Where: City Administration Building, 202 C St., 12th floor Council Chambers

A package of proposed regulations for vapor inhalers — also known as electronic cigarettes — will be considered by the San Diego City Council on Monday.

The two measures would regulate retail sales of the battery-operated devices and restrict their use. They would generally conform to restrictions on tobacco products.

"Our goal here is to provide some sensible restrictions on these so that adults are able to utilize these safely in places that are not around kids, and that kids under the age of 18 do not have access to these, and also give our local law enforcement the ability to enforce state law regarding the sale to minors," Councilman Mark Kersey told the Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee last month.

Kersey proposed regulating the vapor inhalers in February.

Deputy City Attorney Linda Peter said the proposed retailing ordinance would require store owners who sell e-cigarettes to obtain a police permit; prohibit sales of the devices, vaping juice and other paraphernalia through vending machines; and restrict advertisements or promotions that are visible in public areas.

Deputy City Attorney Ken So told committee members that the use of vapor inhalers would be prohibited in the same types of places where people aren't allowed to smoke — such as restaurants, theaters, sports facilities, parks and beaches.

Use of the devices would be allowed in residences, vehicles, e-cigarette shops and vaping lounges, according to So.

Kersey said he didn't want to prevent people from using the devices but doesn't want it to be allowed where other people would be impacted. He added he didn't want to see the creation of "the next generation of nicotine addicts."

The electronic devices have sparked a nationwide debate about whether they should be treated like cigarettes.

Proponents of the vapor inhalers say the devices have weaned people off smoking cigarettes and should not face the same kinds of regulations.

Last month, the National Association of Tobacco Outlets sent a letter to Mayor Kevin Faulconer, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith and the City Council that contends the city ordinance restricting advertising for cigarettes violates the right of free speech under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Thomas Briant, executive director and legal counsel of NATO, urged the council to repeal the restrictions, and not extend them to include electronic cigarettes.

San Diego approved restrictions on vapor inhalers in May. Other cities, including Carlsbad, Oceanside, Poway and La Mesa, also have banned vaping where smoking is not allowed.

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