OCEANSIDE — Oceanside joined the ranks of like-minded cities, and initiated restrictions on electronic smoking devices on April 2.
The city’s ordinance amendments will restrict where e-cigarettes can be smoked, require stores that have a two-foot by four-foot display of e-cigarettes or larger to obtain a conditional use permit, and prohibit minors from entering businesses that sell e-cigarettes unless they are accompanied by an adult.
The majority of speakers at the City Council meeting called for restrictions to be put in place in order to keep e-cigarettes and other electronic smoking devices out of the hands of youth.
“I’ve seen kids smoking at football games from vapor pipes, it just doesn’t make sense that would be OK,” Councilman Jack Feller said.
Several speakers said e-cigarettes are marketed to youth. Flavored oil to add to vapor pipes is sold in appealing kid flavors like bubblegum and cotton candy.
“City Council needs to keep it out of the hands of youth,” Councilman Jerry Kern said. “We need some regulations on this to discourage it as much as possible.”
More troubling news is e-cigarettes do not deter youth from smoking conventional cigarettes.
A 2013 study from the Center for Disease Control Prevention found over 75 percent of middle and high school students who smoke e-cigarettes also smoke conventional cigarettes.
There was some opposition to restrictions on e-cigarette sales, which will be equal to restrictions on tobacco products.
Fabi Elias-Ramsey, owner of Feels Good Vapor, which has been open for six months, said e-cigarettes are a healthy way for adult smokers to quit.
“Customers see me on the street and hug me, and say I changed their life,” Elias-Ramsey said.
Some disagree that the product is safe.
The Food and Drug Administration found e-cigarettes contain carcinogens and toxic chemicals.
“It’s the 50 year anniversary of the surgeon general report that cigarettes are dangerous to your health,” Councilwoman Esther Sanchez said. “It’s the same kind of thing.”
Elias-Ramsey said there is misinformation about alleged harmful ingredients in e-cigarettes.
“Technology is seen as bad,” she said. “It seems like City Council made up their minds ahead of time.”
She added she is 100 percent in support of keeping e-cigarettes out of the hands of youth.
Feels Good Vapor already prohibits minors from entering the store.
Elias-Ramsey said restricting adults from trying the product within the store would have an ill effect on sales.
There are a lot of options for customers who want to stop smoking conventional cigarettes to consider.
“Customers will not be able to find the right solution for them,” Elias-Ramsey said.
City Council first discussed possible restrictions on December 18.
Since December the County Board of Supervisors has approved including e-cigarettes in its anti-tobacco policy.
The cities of Encinitas, Carlsbad, Solana Beach, Vista, Poway, and El Cajon have already put restrictions in place on where e-cigarettes can be smoked.
Oceanside went further and included the requirement of a conditional use permit for sales.
This will naturally limit the number of locations where e-cigarettes are sold.
The amendments will come back to City Council for final approval.