LOS ANGELES (Reuters) The Los Angeles City Council voted on Tuesday to ban the use of electronic cigarettes, also known as “vaping,” from restaurants, bars, nightclubs and other public spaces in the nation’s second largest city.

A spokeswoman for Mayor Eric Garcetti confirmed to Reuters that he would sign the measure into law in the coming days.

When he does, Los Angeles will join a growing list of cities, including New York, Boston and Chicago, that restrict the use of e cigarettes, which are battery powered cartridges filled with liquid nicotine that creates an inhalable vapor when heated.

At stake is the future of an industry that some analysts believe will eventually overtake the $80 billion a year tobacco business.

Public health experts fear that vaping, which has recently gained popularity among teens and young adults, may serve as a gateway to smoking for the uninitiated.

Critics also point to potential harm posed from second hand vapor from e cigarettes, saying too little is known about the effects of the chemicals contained in the cartridges.

“We have an obligation to protect the workforce from the effects of secondhand aerosol exhaled by people who choose to ‘vape’ on e cigarettes,” said City Council member Mitch O’Farrell, who co sponsored the proposal.

“We also have a responsibility to protect our youth and everyone else in public places from the carcinogens found in the ultra fine particles in e cigarette aerosol,” he said.

The proposal was opposed by the makers of e cigarettes, who pitch their product as a safer alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes and say there is no evidence that second hand vape smoke is harmful. Advocates of e cigarettes also say they can help smokers kick the habit.


The Los Angeles ban differs from restrictions in other major cities in that it was amended to allow vaping in lounges and e cigarette stores and for filming or theatrical purposes.

“Although we believe the final decision was made in the absence of credible science, it was a more reasonable and sensible approach than the original proposal,” NJOY, the largest independent maker of e cigarettes, said in a written statement.

“NJOY remains concerned, however, that banning e cigarette use in public places could deter current tobacco smokers from using the products and thus disserves public health,” the company said.

The City Council action comes as the U.S. government is contemplating further regulations at the national level.

The Food and Drug Administration has already proposed a rule that would bring e cigarettes under its jurisdiction and could potentially require companies to register and pay fees, list the ingredients in their products, obtain approval for new products and restrict online sales and marketing to children.

A law passed in 2009 gave the FDA the authority to regulate cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and roll your own tobacco.

It also gave the agency the power to deem other tobacco products to be within its jurisdiction, but it must first issue a rule to that effect.

E cigarette companies believe they should be exempt from the full spectrum of regulations, saying that would stifle innovation, damage small business and hurt consumers trying to quit smoking.

Tobacco company Lorillard Inc, the owner of the blu e cigarette brand, is the dominant player in the field, followed by privately held NJOY and LOGIC Technology. The three account for an estimated 80 percent of the market.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman and Dan Whitcomb Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Meredith Mazzilli, Ken Wills and Jan Paschal)

S.f. supes vote for same smoking laws for e-cigarettes – sfgate

Smoking electronic cigarettes in bars, restaurants and businesses will soon be illegal in San Francisco, after the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to treat the relatively new product like combustible cigarettes.

The legislation by Supervisor Eric Mar is intended to limit children’s use of the nicotine product, which he and other supporters contend has been marketed heavily toward young people, and to protect all members of the public from the secondhand aerosol emitted by the devices, he said.

Under the legislation, San Francisco would include e cigarettes in its strict antismoking laws, banning them in most public places besides curbside on city streets, requiring sellers to secure a special permit, and prohibiting their sale in pharmacies and other businesses where tobacco sales are banned. The board will vote on it once more next week, and it will become law in April after the mayor, a supporter, signs it.

It’s the latest step by local and state officials across the nation to limit use and sales of the devices, which the federal Food and Drug Administration has so far failed to regulate. Health advocates say use of e cigarettes is on the rise among high school students, in part because they are sold in flavors such as bubble gum that appeal to kids, and that little is known about their long term health effects.

Mar puffed on an e cigarette as he presented the legislation.

“Sorry for poisoning all of you, but it’s really important to show I have a banana flavored one and a peach flavored one … they are really targeted at young people and right now it’s not regulated,” he said, saying the product could create a new generation of nicotine addicts.

Manufacturers of electronic cigarettes some of which have marketed the products as a way for smokers to get their nicotine fix anywhere they want or as a way to quit smoking oppose San Francisco’s proposal. Cynthia Cabrera, executive director of the Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association, said San Francisco’s legislation and limitations implemented elsewhere indicate a “fundamental misunderstanding” by policymakers of “what the product is.”

“It’s not a tobacco product, it’s a technology product … and this is stigmatizing people who use the product it sends the wrong message to the public,” she said. “It’s interesting that the city would rush to regulate something as if it’s tobacco when the FDA is still thoughtfully considering the issue. The city is deciding they have more information than the FDA, when the FDA has been looking at it for years.”

Medical marijuana advocates have also expressed concern. Dale Gieringer, director of the California chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said in a written statement that the legislation will hurt medical cannabis patients who “have no alternative but to vaporize because of the city’s stringent antismoking laws.” He said studies sponsored by NORML have “demonstrated that vaporizers are an effective harm reduction technology, effectively eliminating the respiratory toxins in marijuana smoke and posing zero secondhand smoke hazards.”

Stan Glantz, head of UCSF’s Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, said the battery operated e cigarettes contain nicotine as well as dangerous chemicals and emit not just vapor but small particles and gases including metals. Just because they are safer than cigarettes doesn’t make them a healthier alternative, he said.

Also Tuesday, Supervisor London Breed introduced legislation she billed as a “comprehensive overhaul” of the city’s graffiti policies. The proposal is supported by a long list of city agencies, including the city attorney’s office, Police Department and Public Works Department.

Under the legislation, the city attorney will be able to pursue civil lawsuits against chronic graffiti offenders, and those repeat scofflaws will be barred from bringing graffiti and etching tools on Muni or into public parks. The proposal will also streamline the city’s evidence collecting system using the 311 phone app. Breed said it could save San Franciscans millions of dollars a year.

Marisa Lagos is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E mail mlagos Twitter mlagos