CARLSBAD — Despite years of trying, Jason Delveccio could not find anything that would help him quit smoking and kick his addiction to Marlboro cigarettes.
“I failed every single attempt over the years,” he told City Council on Dec. 17. “I’ve tried patches, gum, cold turkey.”
At last, he tried electronic cigarettes, commonly referred to as “e-cigarettes.”
The battery-powered devices heat up a chemical liquid, which can contain nicotine and/or flavors, creating a vapor that users inhale. Because users can adjust the amount of nicotine inhaled from the devices, some argue that they can help people quit smoking tobacco products.
“It’s changed my life,” he said. Not only has he stopped smoking traditional cigarettes, Delveccio said he also lost 50 pounds and can exercise more easily.
Owners of local e-cigarette shops, known as vape shops, point to people like Delveccio as examples for why banning e-cigarette smoking could be a detriment to public health.
A ban prohibiting the use of e-cigarettes wherever smoking is outlawed in Carlsbad was up for final approval by City Council on Dec. 17. Smoking tobacco products is currently prohibited in libraries, beaches, restaurants, parks, and other public places under federal, state, and city laws.
With the recent rise in the popularity of e-cigarettes, several vape shops have opened throughout Carlsbad.
Some representatives from these shops united to oppose the ban after learning that City Council had granted the ban initial approval at their Dec. 3 meeting. They argue that while the ban will most likely not harm their businesses significantly, keeping e-cigarettes out of the public eye will prevent people from learning about the devices and their potential to help with quitting smoking.
“We are vilifying a life-saving technology,” said the owner of Feels Good Vapor in Oceanside, Fabi Ramsey, about the ban. She emphasized that her husband quit smoking after 30 years by using e-cigarettes.
Ramsey stated that it is not fair to ban e-cigarettes because the long-term effects of using the devices have not been researched. She argued that the long-term effects of using cell phones have not been established either, but the city is not proposing to ban the use of cell phones.
“My concern is that less people will know about (e-cigarettes) and more people will die of cancer,” said Dan Daniel. He is a part owner of Mix Vapes on Carlsbad Village Drive.
He added that his store helps the local economy as well because it attracts customers who would not otherwise come to downtown Carlsbad.
“Now we have a product that does the same thing (as cigarettes), but without carcinogens and the stuff that’ll kill you. It’s odd that people wouldn’t be behind it,” said Ben Farrell, another Mix Vapes partner.
City Attorney Celia Brewer proposed the e-cigarette ban in Carlsbad out of concern for enforcement, potential health risks, and possible influences on youth.
At the Dec. 3 meeting, she explained to Council that due to lack of comprehensive studies from the U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration), no one knows if the chemicals used in e-cigarettes could cause harm to people’s health.
She also stated that with flavors like candy and bubblegum, e-cigarettes could be appealing to youth and become an introduction to smoking.
Carlsbad Police Chief Gary Morrison pointed out that law enforcement has no way of knowing what people are smoking out of the devices. He said that under current regulations, officials cannot stop people from smoking what might be illicit drugs out of the devices.
Several community members echoed these sentiments at the Dec. 3 meeting and no one spoke in opposition to the ban.
City Council unanimously supported the ban on Dec. 3, citing concerns about e-cigarettes’ appeal to young consumers.
After listening to the vape shop owners, e-cigarette users, and some speakers who supported the ban on Dec. 17, City Council voted without discussion and unanimously approved the ban.
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors will consider e-cigarette regulations sometime in February. Many cities in the county are considering bans beforehand, and some, including Vista, have already banned the devices in public places.