E-cigarette retailers may face tougher restrictions in Los Angeles


When it comes to the growing popularity of e-cigarettes, few people are as familiar as Jacob van Horn, who is the general manager of a smoke shop in downtown, which sells so-called e-cigarettes. He actually supports new regulations for retailers.

"You need to be ID'ed, you should have a permit, pay your taxes on them. I agree 100 percent with that," said van Horn.

On Wednesday, the Los Angeles City Council approved an ordinance that will impose tougher restrictions on e-cigarette retailers.

Specifically, retailers cannot sell from mobile kiosks. E-cigarettes cannot be sold in self-serve vending machines, and retailers must have a permit from the city to sell them.

"I believe e-cigarettes are a step in that wrong direction," said Councilman Paul Koretz, who was behind the measure, which passed unanimously.

It now goes to Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is expected to sign it into law.

"Until they are proven safe, which I don't think will happen, they absolutely should be regulated," said Koretz.

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 say the vapor is dangerous.

"These products are currently unregulated and studies on their safety and efficacy as smoking sensation aids are limited," said Dr. Jonathan Fielding, director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health.

More change could be coming. In two weeks, the city council will consider an ordinance restricting the use of e-cigarettes, meaning that people who smoke them will face the same restrictions as people who smoke tobacco.

"Until we can establish that e-cigarettes are safe, we should err on the side of caution, and they should be regulated in Los Angeles as we regulate tobacco products," said City Attorney Mike Feuer.

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