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Beverly Hills E-Cigarette Ban Goes Into Effect

e-cigarettes
E-cigarettes are officially banned in Beverly Hills, with the law regulating the smoking activity officially being enforced as of June 1. (Thinkstock)

The smoking of electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, is officially illegal in Beverly Hills, as a law banning the recreational activity officially went into effect on June 1.

Council members approved the e-cigarette ban on Feb. 18, regulating the sale and public consumption of the smoking alternative exactly the same as regular cigarettes.

The use of e-cigarettes and tobacco is banned at Farmers Markets, in outdoor service lines, public plazas, and other public spaces.

E-cigarettes would still be allowed in designated smoking areas within private plazas so long as that area is not within 20 feet of a pedestrian pathway or a building entrance or exit.

An e-cigarette is a battery-powered device with a nicotine cartridge inside. The nicotine is dissolved into a combination of glycol and water, which allows the device to emit a colorless vapor free of tar or other substances generally deemed to be harmful. Accordingly, e-cigarettes have often been considered a less obtrusive alternative to traditional cigarettes.

However, the Beverly Hills council members approved its ban on e-cigarettes earlier this year because, according to the adopted ordinance, City officials believed the activity could lead to harmful effects on the user.

“Electronic cigarettes employ the use of a cartridge, generally containing up to 20 [milligrams] of nicotine to deliver vaporized nicotine to users. Some cartridges used by electronic cigarettes can be re-filled with liquid nicotine solution, creating the potential for exposure to dangerous concentrations of nicotine,” the ordinance stated.

The ordinance also cited several U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) findings, such as one laboratory analysis that found diethylene glycol in one cartridge. According to the ordinance, diethylene glycol is “an ingredient used in antifreeze and toxic to humans.”

Other FDA findings cited in the ordinance included human carcinogens discovered in half or more of the e-cigarette samples tested by the government and low levels of nicotine found in cartridges labeled as not containing nicotine.

“A study published in the American Journal of Public Health found similar results to the FDA testing and concluded that the electronic cigarettes tested so far have demonstrated ‘poor quality control; toxic contaminants, albeit at low levels; misrepresentation of the nicotine delivered; and, insufficient evidence of the overall public health benefit,’” the ordinance reads.

Another concern for Beverly Hills’ policy makers: the accessibility of e-cigarettes to teenagers and young people.

E-cigarettes are often marketed as an alternative option to adults who seek to cut down or even quit entirely the smoking of real cigarettes. However, the accessibility of e-cigarettes online and public places where teenagers frequent – such as malls – raised a concern with the FDA that the smoking alternative would be easily accessible to the underage market.

“The FDA has raised concerns that electronic cigarettes, which are often marketed in appealing flavors, can increase nicotine addiction among young people and may lead youth to try conventional tobacco products,” the Beverly Hills ordinance stated. “The FDA has also raised concerns that electronic cigarettes are marketed and sold to young people and are readily accessible online and via mall kiosks.”

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