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City to mull formal regulation of e-cigarettes, hookah

By From page A1 | May 27, 2014

Soon, e-cigarettes may be treated just like traditional cigarettes in Davis.

As part of a process begun March 11 to address what city staff reports called the growing popularity of e-cigarettes and hookah, the City Council has asked its staff to add legal language that would regulate them just like traditional smoking.

While they’re not currently regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, last month the FDA proposed adding e-cigarettes, hookah and other tobacco products to its list of regulated items.

“Tobacco-related disease and death is one of the most critical public health challenges before the FDA,” said Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, in a statement. “The proposed rule would give the FDA additional tools to protect the public health in today’s rapidly evolving tobacco marketplace, including the review of new tobacco products and their health-related claims.”

E-cigarettes have been touted as alternatives to traditional smoking, because the devices emit vapor and not traditional smoke. According to the Mayo Clinic, an atomizer heats a liquid containing nicotine that transforms it into a vapor that can be inhaled and exhaled much like cigarette smoke. The Mayo Clinic also cited a FDA study that showed varying levels of nicotine in e-cigarette cartridges and traces of cancer-causing chemicals.

“The e-cigarette is meant to look and feel like a traditional cigarette, right down to the small light at the tip that lights up like a burning cigarette,” the city staff report said.

But not every study found e-cigarette use to be potentially harmful. A University College London study of 5,863 adults found that users of e-cigarettes were significantly more likely to say they successfully quit smoking than people who tried over-the-counter stop-smoking aids or tried “cold turkey.”

Regardless, if the City Council introduces the ordinance to treat e-cigarettes and hookah the same as traditional tobacco smoke, city regulations involving the use of the smoking devices eventually would take effect, as well as how they are sold.

For example, under strict city ordinances, smoking is prohibited in most indoor areas and is restricted outdoors as well. Any place not open to the sky is off-limits for smoking, but even then smoking is banned where people could congregate outside, such as a bus stop.

E-cigarettes and their accessories could not to be sold to minors or out of vending machines, either.

Several states and California cities already have taken steps to regulate e-cigarettes and hookah, including Oregon, Maryland, San Francisco and Walnut Creek, according to the staff report.

— Reach Dave Ryan at [email protected] or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @davewritesnews

Dave Ryan

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