The Davis City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to broaden the city’s ordinances regarding tobacco and smoking to include e-cigarettes and hookah.
The move came with a recommendation from city staff and scant discussion among council members, but largely vocal support from the public.
Kelly Stachowicz, deputy city manager, said the action would not ban e-cigarettes.
“I want to be clear,” she said. “This is not outlawing them, this is just adding them to our code.”
Davis city code prohibits smoking in public buildings, restaurants and bars, and outdoors within 20 feet of doorways, at public events or at public gathering places such as bus stops, ATMs, public gardens and children’s play areas.
E-cigarettes have been billed as healthier 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. It looks similar to cigarette smoke.
Hookah is flavored tobacco that is smoked in a water pipe. Hookah bars are banned in the city.
The Food and Drug Administration proposed a rule in April that would allow it to regulate e-cigarettes, hookah and other tobacco-related items.
According to the Mayo Clinic, an FDA study showed varying levels of nicotine in e-cigarette cartridges and traces of cancer-causing chemicals in the vapor.
Sheila Allen, a Davis school board member and candidate for City Council, praised the city for moving toward clearer regulation of e-cigarettes and hookah. Allen is a public health nurse by profession.
Davis resident Barbara King urged the council to adopt the new language.
“They can use it, just not where people can’t smoke,” she said.
Alan Miller was a lone voice of dissent on the issue.
He said he leaned toward the libertarian side of the multitude of restrictions on smoking, despite having lost a sibling to cigarettes.
“I think we need to mellow out on smoking laws,” Miller said.