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County Supervisors Approve Ban On Vaping Products In San Diego's Unincorporated Areas

 October 16, 2019 at 10:21 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 The San Diego County board of supervisors has voted to impose a temporary ban on the sale of vaping devices by a three to two vote supervisors moved to put a one year moratorium on sales in unincorporated areas of the County and permanently ban flavored nicotine. The recent outbreak of lung illnesses linked to vaping prompted the supervisor's actions, but the details of the ban and its impact on local business remains unclear. Jeremy is KPBS health reporter Taren mento. Taryn, welcome. Thanks Maureen. The board of supervisors, as we see with this three to two vote were split on the ban on vaping products. What was the debate like at yesterday's meeting? Speaker 2: 00:42 Right, so to break it down, it's easier to think of it and kind of of trying to approach two issues. The first one is youth vaping and the way that supervisors, Diane Jacob and Nathan Fletcher who introduced this measure wanted to address that was by permanently banning the flavored nicotine products. And Nathan Fletcher said that he personally knew how these flavors can draw you in because he himself, when he was at a County fair when he was young, was handed a some candy flavored smokeless tobacco Speaker 3: 01:11 and then you go from the pouches to the long cut flavors and then you go from the warm cup flavors to the fine cut flavors and then eventually you go to full Copenhagen usage, which I did for many years. And an environment both as an athlete or as a baseball player and in the military was very conducive and socially acceptable. And then you wake up one day having three major oral surgeries to rebuild your gum and job. So Speaker 2: 01:34 he'd a supervisor, Diane Jacob and supervisor Greg Cox, all voted in support of banning this, but supervisor Kristin gas bar and Jim Desmon, they voted against it and supervisor gas bar said she was on board with preventing youth usage, but she wanted to, she wanted to focus it on the actual bad actors banning flavored products from storefronts. Wasn't necessarily the problem. She said it was online sales and she knew this because she asked her son who she said didn't vape, but he was very familiar with how kids are actually accessing these products. He went to Instagram and he showed me right in front of my own eyes the things that pop up there, the sales that are happening there. And then like one of the speakers suggested today, he showed me the endless supply of websites that are out there and all you need to do is click that you are not a minor and you move on and you have access to the world. Speaker 2: 02:26 And the second part of this ban is addressing the vaping related illnesses. And Fletcher says a ban on devices, a temporary ban and devices is what they're, they're looking at to help with that. And if we temporarily ban them, it can give investigators time to figure out what's causing the illnesses. And then the County can draft regulations to help keep the public safe. But supervisor Jim Desmond, who again voted against this says that's unfair to businesses who sell nicotine vaping products. Because federal investigators have said most of the patients suffering from these illnesses are using THC. Some are using nicotine products, but most are THC products. You've reported that health officials actually disagree on whether a ban is the right approach. Why is that? So some of the individuals that I've spoken with say a band could push people to the black market. And federal investigators have said that the black market, a TFC devices are linked to a majority of these illnesses. Speaker 2: 03:21 So if we remove these products, pushing people to getting them from the black market, um, and that could possibly contribute to the illnesses. And the other thing is if you limit access to these devices that a lot of people say have helped them quit smoking cigarettes, you might get some people who will then be motivated to quit. But you're going to have a lot of addicted people looking for getting a fix. And where are they going to go? Possibly going to the black market to get those nicotine devices, but more easily, easily accessible. Uh, cigarettes perhaps. And there was a study about 10 years ago that one of the, one of the leaders of a cancer center told me about that when they said, Hey, if there's a ban on menthol cigarettes, where would you go? About a third said they'd be motivated to quit. Speaker 2: 04:01 About a third said that they would go to something different, maybe a different type of cigarette, and a third said that they would continue to seek out maybe contraband, menthol cigarettes. Now when the band was initially proposed to supporters said that they were hoping other local cities would follow suit. Have any other cities in the County taken steps to ban vaping products? Most recently El Cahone has discussed it, but they ultimately decided to focus on increasing fines on bad actors, people who sell to kids, and I have heard that Chula Vista is looking at a potential ban, so kind of monitoring and seeing how things are going. There have been 25 cases in San Diego County of vaping related lung illness. What's the status of the investigation into what's causing people who use e-cigarettes to get sick? The simple answer is it's ongoing. And I've had a lot of people ask me, why don't we yet know what's causing it? Speaker 2: 04:53 You've got the devices that are making people sick, you've got the products making people sick. Let's just test them, find out what's in there and connect it to these illnesses. The problem is that there are so many devices, so many different substances actually being used. Some people are mixing substances, some people are getting things that are off the market or off the off the street. Some people are getting things from online and some people are getting um, THC cartridges from States that have a recreational marijuana program and some States that actually don't have them. So they're getting online and we don't know exactly what's in these devices across the board. So they're testing for things that they know could be harmful testing for things that they know could be in these products. But there's a whole category of chemicals that could be in these products that we don't know that they're harmful. Speaker 2: 05:36 Meanwhile, do you have the sense of how the ban and when, when it is finally approved, when the wording is decided upon how it's going to be implemented and enforced? We don't know that exactly because the ordinance is not drafted. So we'll get more, um, so the, the counties out the supervisors action directed staff to come up with the ordinance and bring it back to them in 60 days, and then we'll have more information about the final language there. And one of the interesting things is the way that the policy was written, or the direction from the supervisors was written is that the ban may touch other flavor tobacco products, which could be menthol cigarettes or it could be these flavored cigars. So we don't, we won't know how it will affect those, um, those products, but it could. And so that's something we'll also be looking for when the final language comes back. Before the board, I've been speaking with KPBS health reporter at Taran mento Taryn. Thank you. Thank you. Speaker 4: 06:32 [inaudible].

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Supervisors voted 3-2 to prohibit flavored nicotine sales and impose a one-year ban on the sale and distribution of all electronic smoking devices within unincorporated areas of San Diego County.
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