It seemed like a pretty normal news day when we read that Laguna Beach city manager John Pietig was trying to get e-cigs banned in public. Pietig proposed adding e-cigs to the existing ban on tobacco because he believed the vapor was putting people in danger from secondhand smoke. While this story seemed pretty typical at first, the result was anything but normal. Believe it or not, Laguna Beach city officials rejected Pietig’s motion and sided with e-cigarettes!
It turns out that Laguna Beach has a pretty amazing city council and they insisted on doing some research before making a decision. Councilman Steven Dicterow was worried about including e-cigs in a ban because he wasn’t convinced that they were really dangerous. Councilwoman Toni Isen mentioned that she once sat near someone using an electronic cigarette and never noticed even the faintest odor. Even the mayor was skeptical of the ban! Mayor Kelly Boyd told council members that her friend used e-cigarettes.
After just a little time, the council had adequate research to make a decision and they chose to reject the proposed e-cigarette ban. In fact, the council worried that banning e-cigarettes would actually be bad for public health. Isen explained that e-cigs offered a tobacco-free alternative and that by allowing them to be used in public, “we could possibly be helping someone quit smoking.”
Residents of Laguna Beach were pleased with the council’s decision. A local man named Peter French voiced his support of e-cigs, saying that “second hand vapor from an e-cig is no more harmful than the water vapor rising out of a cup of coffee.”
It’s not everyday that we see a city council stand in support of electronic cigarettes, but we hope the decision will be allowed to stand in the future. The battle over e-cigarettes continues in California on a statewide level as legislators are currently working to have e-cigarettes banned in all jurisdictions. If the new law passes, Laguna Beach will have no choice but the enforce an e-cig ban.
Still, the recent decision by Laguna Beach city council members gives the e-cig community some hope that lawmakers are not completely unwilling to do a little research. If other government leaders will follow the lead of this city council, then electronic cigarettes have a good chance of helping many smokers in the future. However, if they are banned in all public places, they might not be as effective.
Do you think California lawmakers will manage to enforce a statewide ban on electronic cigarettes? Is this new decision by Laguna Beach the beginning of a new era for e-cigs?