California Regulators Move To Criminalize Vaping In Outdoor Parks

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

Lawmakers in a California town are the latest group of local officials in the U.S. looking to tightly control the use of electronic cigarettes outdoors.

The Tustin City Council voted Tuesday to criminalize the use of vapor products in all public parks in the city. The measure is part of a larger ban on smoking and other tobacco use in the outdoor spaces. The ordinance also formally bans marijuana smoking in their city’s public parks due to the recent legalization of pot for recreational use in California, reports My News LA.

The vote Tuesday approved a first reading of the ordinance, which the council plans to finalize Oct. 17. The California arm of the American Lung Association, a group that tells smokers not to vape despite ample evidence it aids cessation, praised officials in Tustin Wednesday for approving the ordinance.

“We commend the city of Tustin for taking this important first step toward reducing exposure to second-hand smoke in our community, especially for children enjoying our city’s outdoor spaces,” said Ravi Choudhuri of the American Lung Association in California, according to My News LA.

Vaping devices heat liquid nicotine and do not contain tobacco, but continue to be painted as tobacco products and included in restrictions applied to traditional cigarettes. Public health experts argue policies that do not differentiate between the safety profile of traditional tobacco and vapor products actually undermine public health by denying smokers a less harmful alternative that cuts risk to themselves and those around them.

Localities across the country are passing ordinances that conflate vaping devices with traditional tobacco. Council members in Starkville, Miss., passed a ban Tuesday in a unanimous vote that includes e-cigarettes and other vapor products in their definition of tobacco products.

Vaping advocates say these policies will make it less likely that smokers will attempt to quit, arguing the fear tactics used to push such bans ignore permanent science, leaving the public misinformed and stigmatizing the use of a safer alternative.

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