In a surprising turn of events, Laguna Beach city officials sided with e-cigarettes in a recent discussion about potential ecig bans. City Manager John Pietig originally suggested adding e-cigarettes to the current ban on tobacco in public places. Pietig’s proposal was made with good intentions (although poor fact checking) to “protect the public”, but it was met with harsh resistance and ultimately rejected by the council.
Councilman Steven Dicterow spoke against the recommendation to ban e-cigs saying, “I am not convinced that e-cigarettes are dangerous.” Other members of the city council had actually seen electronic cigarettes in use and they had at least some facts about them that led them to make an educated decision. Mayor Kelly Boyd told the council that he had a friend that used e-cigarettes. Another council member, Toni Isen shared that she had sat next to someone using an e-cig and never smelled any odor from the device.
After some discussion, the Laguna Beach Council did some research, got the facts, and then decided that a ban on electronic cigarettes would actually be counterproductive. In fact, Isen said that by keeping e-cigarettes as a legal option, “We could possibly be helping someone quit smoking.”
Laguna Beach resident Peter French told reporters that “second hand vapor from an e-cig is no more harmful than the water vapor rising out of a cup of coffee.” It turns out that the city council agreed with French and decided that restricting e-cigarettes would not be a wise decision. By allowing e-cigarettes to be used in places where tobacco is restricted, the council hopes that more people will consider switching to e-cigs as a less harmful alternative if they are unable to quit altogether.
While Laguna Beach made a great choice in standing behind e-cigarettes, the state of California does not seem to be following their lead. In fact, legislators are pushing to pass a new law that states that e-cigs “may be a hazard to the health of the general public.” The new law would include electronic cigarettes in all smoking bans throughout California, forcing smaller jurisdictions like Laguna Beach to enforce the bans whether they agree or not.
Unfortunately, most of today’s law makers are not familiar with e-cigarettes or the most recent research about their impact on public health. However, the actions of the Laguna Beach City Council provides a little glimmer of hope that at least a few law makers are willing to do some research before they make a decision. We can only hope that California’s legislators will eventually follow suit.
Do you think Laguna Beach will continue to support e-cigarettes or will a statewide e-cig ban eventually force them to change their policy?