Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Local Alert! San Jose, California - E-Cigarette Usage Ban

Memorandum from Councilmember Ash Kalra

The City of San Jose is considering adding e-cigarettes to its smoke-free ordinance, effectively banning e-cigarette use wherever smoking is prohibited (including many outdoor venues).  The Rules and Open Government Committee members will be hearing from staff regarding the ordinance TODAY, WEDNESDAY, APRIL 16, 2014 at 2:00 P.M. (City Hall Wing Room 118/119, 200 E. Santa Clara Street, San Jose, CA  95113).  Parking can be found below City Hall, and you should ask to receive validation at the Committee Meeting.   (When you arrive at the meeting, please fill out a yellow speaking card to be recognized to speak.)

Councilmember Rose Herrera sent an email yesterday to members of her district asking that residents show up in support of the ordinance, noting that, "Going up against big tobacco and addiction is not an easy feat and I need your help."  She apparently doesn't realize that the battle she is waging isn't against "big tobacco," but, rather, against thousands of individual vapers in San Jose who have improved their health and dramatically reduced their health risks by switching (either in whole or in part) to a product estimated to be 99% less hazardous than smoking.  CASAA is asking residents of San Jose to show up, call, and email to let the City of San Jose know that you oppose any efforts to treat low-risk, smoke-free e-cigarette use like smoking, 

Please (1) email and call members of the Rules and Open Government Committee to explain why you oppose efforts to ban e-cigarettes wherever smoking is prohibited, and (2) attend the meeting and offer testimony in opposition to an ordinance treating the use of low-risk, smoke-free e-cigarettes the same as smoking.
(As a sign of respect, we request that you refrain from vaping during the  meeting.)

CASAA strongly encourages vapers to call and email members of the Rules and Open Government Committee.
What to say:
  1. You are a San Jose, San Jose-area, or California  resident and while you support bans on sales to minors, you oppose banning e-cigarette use where smoking is prohibited. (If you are responding to this Local Alert and are not a state resident, please mention any connection you have to the area, for example, you travel to San Jose on vacation or have friends/family in the area.)
  2. Tell your story on how switching to an e-cigarette has changed your life.  
  3. Clarify that: 
a.  Smoking bans are ostensibly enacted to protect the public from the harm of secondhand smoke, but e-cigarettes have not been found to pose a risk to bystanders. In fact, all evidence to date shows that the low health risks associated with e-cigarettes are comparable to other smokeless nicotine products.

b.  The low risks of e-cigarettes is supported by research done by Dr. Siegel of Boston University, Dr. Eissenberg of Virginia Commonwealth, Dr Maciej L Goniewicz of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Dr. Laugesen of Health New Zealand, Dr. Igor Burstyn of Drexel University, and by the fact that the FDA testing, in spite of its press statement, failed to find harmful levels of carcinogens or toxic levels of any chemical in the vapor.

c.  A comprehensive review conducted by Dr. Igor Burstyn of Drexel University School of Public Health based on over 9,000 observations of e-cigarette liquid and vapor found "no apparent concern" for bystanders exposed to e-cigarette vapor, even under "worst case" assumptions about exposure.

d.  Electronic cigarette use is easy to distinguish from actual smoking. Although some e-cigarettes resemble real cigarettes, many do not. It is easy to tell when someone lights a cigarette from the smell of smoke. E-cigarette vapor is practically odorless, and generally any detectable odor is not unpleasant and smells nothing like smoke. Additionally, e-cigarette users can decide whether to release any vapor ("discreet vaping").  With so little evidence of use, enforcing use bans on electronic cigarettes would be nearly impossible.

e.  The ability to use electronic cigarettes in public spaces will actually improve public health by inspiring other smokers to switch and reduce their health risks by an estimated 99%.

4.  Direct them to the website, as well as the CASAA Research Library, for more information.

Contact Information for the  rules and Open Government Committee, City Manager, City Attorney, and City Clerk:
Comma delimited email list:,,,,,,

Members of Rules and Open Government Committee:

Mayor Chuck Reed
(408) 535-4800

Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen, District 7
(408) 535-4907

Pierluigi Oliverio, District 6
(408) 535-4906

Pete Constant, District 1
(408) 535-4901

Rose Herrera, District 8
(408) 535-4908


Ed Shikada, City Manager
(408) 535-8100; fax (408) 920-7007

Toni J. Taber, City Clerk
(408) 535-1260; fax (408) 292-6207

Richard Doyle, City Attorney
(408) 535-1900; fax (408) 998-3131


Kathleen O'Connor said...

so how did it go? The staff of Pete Constant emailed me back that she was putting a hard copy in his binder. The Clerk emailed back that she would give a copy to each. I received email notification that Reed opened my email at 3:30PM. I did make calls to local shops.

Kathleen O'Connor said...

I watched the video of the that portion of the mtg and here are my notes.
The gist is, instead of going for the "me too" ordinance, they are having the City Manager check with all the of SJ City properties they own and go with the lesser hassle of of policy than an overreaching policy. Thanks to the folks who stepped up, it caused enough of a pause for them to think before they leapt.

Kathleen O'Connor said...

I meant citywide ordinance. Thanks Council Member Constant for being logical about it.