SOLANA BEACH — Solana Beach is the latest city to take a stand against the use of electronic cigarettes, unanimously agreeing at the Feb. 12 meeting to prohibit them, and all similar devices, in all public places where smoking is banned.
Councilman Peter Zahn at a previous meeting asked the city attorney to review local, state and federal regulations of e-cigs, as they are known.
Johanna Canlas reported that there are currently no federal or state regulations, other than prohibiting the sale to minors, however, the Food and Drug Administration and some states are considering them.
In San Diego County, Vista, Carlsbad and Poway amended ordinances to prohibit e-cigs where smoking is prohibited, and several other cities are taking steps in that same direction.
Canlas said council members could do the same, enact a separate ordinance, regulate or limit sales of the devices or adopt some combination of all three acts.
Councilman David Zito said he was reluctant to regulate sales because some studies indicate they can be moderately effective at helping people trying to quit smoking. But Judi Strang, executive director of the San Dieguito Alliance for Drug Free Youth, said according to lead researches the devices aren’t associated with tobacco cessation.
E-cigs are battery-powered vaporizers or electronic nicotine delivery systems that simulate smoking, Canlas said. A heating element vaporizes liquid solutions that contain nicotine — or not — and perhaps flavors, that include everything from mint to gummy bears.
Prevention, health and law enforcement organizations and anti-smoking advocates say illegal substances such as marijuana and heroin can also be smoked in e-cigarettes.
Debra Kelley, from the San Diego chapter of the American Lung Association, said the organization’s main concern is that e-cigarettes “will make smoking seem normal again,” especially to youth.
“It’s really going to start to undo what communities have done to protect kids from the tobacco industry,” Kelly said.
According to the staff report, there are few studies on the effects of e-cigarettes on users, bystanders or the environment. However, one study found some potentially harmful compounds are present in the vapors, including propylene glycol, which is safe for oral consumption but which may cause respiratory problems if inhaled.
Some cancer-causing substances, such as nickel and chromium, were also found in the vapors. Both have been determined to be carcinogenic.
The 22nd District Agricultural Association, which oversees the Del Mar Fairgrounds, will discuss adding e-cigs to its no-smoking policy at the fair during its March 11 meeting.