Los Angeles e-cig supporters were frustrated this week as the city council approved new restrictions on electronic cigarettes. After the 14-0 vote, local lawmakers ruled that e-cigarettes would be treated as tobacco products and banned from most public places including parks and beaches. The new restriction bars patrons at bars and nightclubs from vaping indoors, although e-cig use is still welcomed in local vape shops and e-cigarette lounges.
As the city council debated how to handle the booming e-cig craze in LA, many of the council members spoke out with concerns about the abundance of vaping in public. Councilman Mitch O’Farrell pushed for the ban, citing his own frustration with inhaling secondhand smoke as a waiter 20 years go. Apparently O’Farrell didn’t realize that e-cigs are actually smoke-free.
Another city councilman, Joe Buscaino, told the story of a family member that switched from cigarettes to e-cigs while the Council President Herb Wesson talked about his personal battle with tobacco addiction that would likely kill him one day. He pushed for e-cig bans on the grounds that they could be luring more young people into using tobacco. “When you’re 15, you want to be cool,” he said. “And I will not support anything – anything – that might attract one new smoker.”
Buscaino argued that e-cigs were actually helping smokers quit and explained that they were tobacco-free. “I don’t think they should be regulated exactly the same way,” he said. He petitioned the council to include an amendment that would allow ecig use in bars and nightclubs, but ultimately, the amendment did not receive enough votes to be successful.
Jonathan Fielding, director of the LA Health Department pushed for the e-cig ban, insisting that vaping posed a threat to years of work to minimize tobacco use. He worries that vaping would make smoking socially acceptable after years of overturning that perception. “We don’t want to risk e-cigarettes undermining a half-century of successful tobacco control,” he said.
After Tuesday’s decision to ban ecigs from public places, local organization IMProof hosted a “Save Vape LA” rally on Saturday. The rally was an opportunity for LA’s e-cig supporters to join together in unanimous protest against the ban and defend their e-cigs as a positive step in defeating tobacco use. Sponsors from VapeRev, Daman and Associates Attorneys, Emperor E-Cigs, Craft Vapery, SFATA, and CASAA were present at the event.
Speakers included Herbert Gilbert, the original e-cig pioneer in 1963 along with John Cameron, the CEO or Emperor Ecigs. Attorney Phillip Damon also spoke followed by an open forum time where local e-cig supporters could tell their own stories.
For now, Los Angeles vapers will have to be cautious about using ecigs outside of their homes or cars. Hopefully, vapers will continue to create local awareness about e-cigarettes and the City Council will begin to see e-cigs in a new light in the future.
If you are a vaper in LA, we would love to hear from you! Were you there for Saturday’s big rally? How do you feel about the new restrictions on ecigs?