Friday, August 9, 2013

Laguna Beach council uses common sense, refuses to ban e-cigarettes

Laguna Beach, CA  (August 8, 2013)--

City officials in Laguna Beach acted with commendable common sense and restraint in rejecting an ordinance that would have restricted the use of e-cigarettes to smoking areas.  As noted by Councilman Steven Dicterow, "I am not convinced that e-cigarettes are dangerous."

It is rare these days to see such a reasonable and cautious approach to e-cigarette regulation, especially in California, where several communities have included e-cigarette use in smoking bans.   In fact, California state legislators are currently working to pass SB 648 which declares that the use of electronic cigarettes “may be a hazard to the health of the general public.”  (SB 648 would include e-cigarettes in all future smoking bans passed in California, effectively tying the hands of local municipalities who might want to take a more moderate approach. **add clickable link in here to CTA for CA**)  Even faced with mounting scientific evidence that e-cigarette vapor actually poses no health risk to bystanders and very little risk to consumers, many legislators continue to embrace anti e-cigarette rhetoric and misinformation. Most have not even seen an e-cigarette in use in person.

Apparently, several council members in Laguna Beach have seen e-cigarettes in use, and that is at least in part what convinced the Council not to include e-cigarettes in the smoking ban.   For example, Laguna Beach Mayor Kelly Boyd was quoted as saying a friend of his uses an e-cigarette and Councilwoman Toni Iseman told reporters that she once sat next to someone using one of the devices and didn't smell anything.   (See Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot for full story.)

The Laguna Beach officials seem to have actually looked at the evidence, educated themselves about e-cigarettes, and came to understand that banning the public use of e-cigarettes would be counter-productive.  Councilwoman Isen quite correctly noted “We could possibly be helping someone quit smoking.”   Allowing relatively unrestricted use of e-cigarettes clearly provides an incentive for smokers to consider switching to a reduced harm alternative if they are unwilling or unable to quit.   And, at the end of the day, why should e-cigarette use by adults be restricted given there is no credible evidence of harm to either the e-cigarette user or bystanders?

We too often focus on the state and local governments that are abusing their authority, and so it’s a genuine pleasure to be able to praise the Laguna Beach City Council for doing what all governments should be doing—making an educated decision rather than a knee-jerk reaction.

1 comment: