The Mission City Council Wednesday took the first step toward regulating e-cigarette use with the same restrictions that are in place banning smoking in public places.
The suggestion for the change came to the council from Mission Planning Commissioner Robin Dukelow who asked that e-cigarettes be prohibited anywhere that conventional cigarettes are prohibited.
Councilors meeting in committee Wednesday agreed to have city staff work on an ordinance to bring back in June for discussion that would include the restrictions on e-cigarette use. None of the council members objected to the change.
Mission has had some public smoking ban in place since 1987, according to a staff memo prepared for the council. The comprehensive second-hand smoke ban which includes restaurants and places of employment was passed in 2008. The city ordinance, though, defines smoking to only include combustible tobacco products.
Councilor Suzie Gibbs raised the question of smoking on a patio (such as a restaurant or bar) when the smoke comes in through open doors. City Administrator Laura Smith said smoking is allowed in outdoor areas depending on the distance.
The staff background contained several articles about e-cigarettes, including a bulletin from the CDC that in part says, “E-cigarette aerosol is not harmless water vapor. In addition to nicotine, e-cigarette aerosol can contain heavy metals, ultrafine particulates that can be inhaled deep into the lungs, and cancer-causing agents like acrolein.” The bulletin said e-cigarettes can be a health benefit if smokers switch completely from combustible products.
Councilor Pat Quinn said the issue was one of fairness, suggesting the e-cigarettes should be treated the same in the smoking restrictions.