The Los Angeles City Council Tuesday moved to ban e- cigarette use, often called “vaping,” inside bars, nightclubs, restaurants and other public areas where tobacco smoking is restricted.
The council voted 14-0 to approve the ordinance that prohibits vaping at farmers’ markets, parks, recreational areas, beaches, indoor workplaces such as bars and nightclubs, outdoor dining areas and other places where lighting up is banned.
Vaping lounges and stores will be exempted from the ban, similar to exceptions made for cigar and hookah lounges under tobacco smoking regulations.
E-cigarettes used for “theatrical purposes” will also be allowed.
An amendment by Councilman Joe Buscaino that would have allowed an exemption for bars failed 8-6.
Buscaino, in presenting his amendment, argued that while he supported keeping e-cigarettes out of the hands of minors, the ban at bars would tread on the rights of adults to use e-cigarettes.
The battery-powered devices, which have been marketed as smoking-cessation aids, enable users to inhale a nicotine-laced vapor.
Some city and public health officials say not enough is known about the effects of chemicals contained in the liquids. Supporters of the regulation point to studies indicating that chemicals considered harmful by the Food and Drug Administration — such as nickel, lead and chromium — have been detected in e-cigarettes.
“Safer does not mean safe,” Dr. Jonathan Fielding, the county’s public health director, told the council. “Although they are less harmful than traditional cigarettes, some e-cigarettes contain some health risks.”
Fielding added that e-cigarette sales have grown into a “$1.5 billion industry that has caught the attention of big tobacco which historically has had scant regard for public health.”