E-Cigarettes Will Now Be Treated Like Regular Cigarettes In MoCo
The County Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a bill that bans the use of electronic cigarettes in public places where traditional tobacco smoking is also prohibited.
The bill, meant to target the use of e-cigs by teens, also requires liquid nicotine containers used in the devices be in child-resistant packaging. It also bans the sale of e-cigs in vending machines or any other place where a seller is not needed to provide the product.
Councilmember Nancy Floreen sponsored the bill and said she was concerned with marketing and packaging meant to draw teenagers to vaping.
“The liquids that are used in these e-cigs, it’s like they could’ve been designed by Ben & Jerry’s,” Floreen said, comparing the flavored nicotine products to the ice cream maker known for its creative flavors and product names.
E-cigs first got on the Council’s radar last summer.
The County Council’s Health and Human Services Committee heard from a group of health experts in a session dedicated to learning about the battery-operated products that are increasing in popularity. E-cigs heat the liquid nicotine, along with flavors and other chemicals, into a vapor that the user inhales or “vapes.”
While the Food and Drug Administration has yet to regulate e-cig use, health officials say the nicotine found in the products is highly addictive, has “immediate bio-chemical effects on the brain and body at any dosage” and can be toxic.
The FDA has banned fruit and candy flavors from traditional cigarettes and many — including the National Association of Attorneys General — have urged it to do the same when it comes to e-cigarettes.
Councilmember George Leventhal said he supported the bill because of local bar and restaurant owners who might have a hard time distinguishing e-cig use and regular cigarette use.
The bill will also apply to e-cigars, e-hookahs, e-pipes and vape pens.
“Perhaps swayed by the belief that electronic cigarettes are safe, or emboldened by the fact that e-cigs have little odor that parents could detect, teens who have never tried traditional cigarettes are using e-cigs, putting themselves at risk for nicotine addiction, nicotine poisoning or exposure to harmful chemicals,” Floreen said. “I am not willing to gamble with the health of our current generation of young people by waiting for federal regulations. The Council did the right thing by putting these protections in place.”
The bill will go into effect 91 days after it’s signed by County Executive Isiah Leggett.
Photo via Bethesda Vapor Company