Alhambra City Council voted Monday to prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, in public places in Alhambra. All but one council member voted to amend Section 9.18.010 of the Alhambra Municipal Code, which bans "tobacco, or any weed or plant" from public spaces and places of employment, to include the metal or plastic smoking devices.
Councilman Gary Yamauchi abstained from voting on the issue and said he was not convinced that e-cigarettes are harmful to those around smokers. He recounted a story of watching a man smoke an e-cigarette at Lovebirds Cafe. "I went out there and I asked, 'Would you mind if I just stand next to you for a little bit?'" Yamauchi said Monday. "So I actually stood next to the guy, downwind, and when he exhaled, all that vapor came at me and it was nothing."
Councilwoman Barbara Messina responded to Yamauchi with concerns about the e-cigarette industry selling the addictive device to minors, citing an Oct. 24 Los Angeles Times article about new regulations against the product. "Mr. Yamauchi, I think you should read that because I think it would give you some assurance that what we did was the right way to go," Messina said. "It's being heavily looked into because of the abuse that they are seeing, that very young minors are being targeted and using this."
Attorneys general from 40 states urged the Food and Drug Administration in September to classify e-cigarettes as tobacco products, the Los Angeles Times reports. E-cigarettes contain nicotine and can be advertised and sold to children, they argued. "People, especially kids, are being led to believe that e-cigarettes are a safe alternative, but they are highly addictive and can deliver strong doses of nicotine," Massachusetts Atty. Gen. Martha Coakley told the L.A. Times.
Members of Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association, an e-cigarettes industry group, are lobbying to avoid regulations from the FDA. They argue that e-cigarettes are a safe alternative to tobacco products.
Weren't able to attend the meeting? You can watch it here. City Council usually meets every second and fourth Monday of the month on the second floor of City Hall. The next meeting will be on Nov. 25 at 5:30 and 7:00 p.m.