The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors strengthened its smoking ordinance Tuesday with a ban on e-cigarettes in certain public places in unincorporated areas. The new ordinance covers places of employment as well as public spaces including dining areas, recreational areas, public events, and service areas.
The amendments will help protect the public from secondhand vapors that are emitted from electronic smoking devices, said Board Chair David Rabbitt.
“As someone who’s lost a family member to smoking related disease, I am particularly aware of the need to address this health issue early on, and ensure that smoking does not become accepted as the social norm like it was a just a couple decades ago,” Rabbitt said. “These protections can go a long way in keeping another generation from getting hooked on nicotine.”
An additional reason for restricting e-cigarette use is out of concern for the health of children and youth, board members agreed. Studies have shown a rapid increase in the number of youth using e-cigarettes and flavored tobacco and nicotine products.
According to the National Youth Tobacco Survey, use of e-cigarettes among middle and high school students doubled from 2011 to 2012. There is also substantial evidence that flavored cigarettes of any kind are a “starter” product for youth who begin smoking.
Addressing issues of smoking and nicotine addiction was recently called out for action in A Portrait of Sonoma County, a report recently accepted by the Board of Supervisors. The report offers an in-depth look at how residents of Sonoma County are faring in fundamental ways essential to well-being and opportunity, and calls for a “redoubling on antismoking efforts” in order to make population level improvements to health.
With the vote Sonoma County joins 62 other counties and cities, including Petaluma and Sebastopol, in regulating e-cigarettes.
Last month, the Sonoma City Council voted to effectively ban smoking in all outdoor public spaces including parks, sidewalks and outdoor work areas. The language of that ordinance is being drafted by city staff, and should return to council for formal approval later this summer.