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LA City Council votes to ban e-cigarettes from bars, restaurants

The L.A. City Council voted to ban e-cigarette use at bars, nightclubs, restaurants and other public areas.
March 4, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to ban e-cigarette use at bars, nightclubs, restaurants and other public areas.

The ordinance also prohibits e-cigarettes, also known as "vaping," at farmers' markets, parks, recreational areas, beaches, indoor workplaces, outdoor dining areas and other places where tobacco smoking is restricted.

Vaping lounges and stores will be exempted from the ban, similar to exceptions made for cigar and hookah lounges under tobacco smoking regulations.

Council members voted 14-0 to approve the ordinance, which still needs Mayor Eric Garcetti's signature. With the vote, Los Angeles joins other big cities like New York and Chicago in placing restrictions on where you can use e-cigarettes.

A three-hour debate on the matter preceded the vote, with county health officials speaking about the health hazards of "vaping."

"We don't need to risk e-cigarettes undermining a half-century of successful tobacco control and perpetuating the 500,000 deaths that occur each year due to traditional cigarettes," said Dr. Jonathan Fielding of L.A. County Public Health.

Opponents say there is not enough data to determine if e-cigarettes are bad for you.

"If you force former smokers to go outside and have their e-cigarette, with all due respect, you will be held accountable for them going back to smoking," said Dr. Jeff Stire of the National Center for Public Policy Research.

Councilman Joe Buscaino presented an amendment to the ordinance that would have allowed an exemption for bars, but it failed on a 8-6 vote.

Garcetti is currently in Mexico, but he is expected to sign the ordinance. After he signs it, the ordinance goes into effect in 30 days.

In December, the City Council approved an ordinance that imposed tougher restrictions on e-cigarette retailers, prohibiting sales from mobile kiosks. Retailers must have a permit from the city to sell them.

E-cigarettes were introduced in 2007, and they have been largely unregulated because they don't burn tobacco. They vaporize liquid instead. It looks like smoke, but people are exhaling vapor that's typically infused with nicotine. Still, Los Angeles County health officials insist the vapor is dangerous.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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