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Supervisors Fletcher, Jacob Announce Details of Vaping Ordinances


County of San Diego Board of Supervisors’ Chairwoman Dianne Jacob and Supervisor Nathan Fletcher today announced details of new ordinances the board is set to consider Tues., Jan. 14, to crack down on the sale and distribution of flavored tobacco and e-cigarettes.

The supervisors originally called for the restrictions in October in response to a spate of vaping-related illnesses across California and the United States.

County public health officials disclosed today that there has been an uptick in local hospitalizations related to vaping. The number of people hospitalized has grown to 43.

They have ranged in age from 17 to 70, with a median age of 31. Just over half have been male.

“It’s critical that we do all we can now to address this nationwide crisis as health experts work overtime to find out what’s behind it,” said Chairwoman Jacob. “With lives hanging in the balance, doing nothing is not an option.”

Fifty-five California cities and counties, including San Francisco, San Jose, San Mateo County and Los Angeles County, have prohibited or restricted the sale of flavored tobacco products or are considering similar ordinances.

“As stewards of public health; we have a responsibility to raise awareness and act in the best interest of the public to protect them,” said Supervisor Fletcher. “Right now we simply do not know enough about the chemicals being consumed and their impacts. We are acting in a similar fashion to other jurisdictions in California, we are acting with an abundance of caution.”  

 The new ordinances being voted on are as follows:

●     Flavored tobacco ban: Prohibit the sale or distribution in unincorporated parts of the county of flavored smoking products, including flavored cigarettes. These flavors include bubblegum, mango, creme brulee, vanilla, menthol and mint.

●     Device moratorium: A moratorium on the sale and distribution of e-cigarette devices in unincorporated parts of the county. It will be in effect for one year, or until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention presents a report on vaping illness that indicates the risks have been properly assessed.

●     Smoke-free outdoor dining: Restrict smoking at outdoor areas in unincorporated parts of the county. This policy change will reduce secondhand smoke exposure for restaurant patrons, as well as the service industry employees.

The supervisors emphasized that none of the proposed ordinance changes apply to certified tobacco cessation products, which are any products approved by the FDA.

Tuesday will be the first of two hearings on the ordinances. The second reading is scheduled for Tues., Jan. 28. If approved, the ordinance will become effective and fully enforceable on July 1, 2020.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been at least 55 confirmed deaths nationwide associated with e-cigarette use and about 2,500 hospitalizations.

Enforcement of Ordinances

The county’s Health and Human Services Agency is developing a Tobacco Retail Program, which will be the mechanism that enforces compliance with these ordinance changes. The Tobacco Retail Program will also ensure that shops are not selling to minors, and all retail entities are complying with other state and local laws. We expect to review the Tobacco Retail Program later this spring.

Youth Vaping On The Rise

During a press conference at the County Administration Center, both Supervisors talked about the importance of protecting all residents from the unknowns of vaping and e-cigarettes, but in particular youth. Recent federal data funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse show that 25% of this year’s high school seniors and 20% of 10th graders reported vaping nicotine in the past month. That’s more than double the use reported in 2017. Nearly 7 of 10 kids who vape are using a flavored vape.