Definition of smoking now to include vapor.
By Sam Catanzaro
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors recently voted to update County regulations to address “threats to public health” posed by vaping. In a motion passed March 20, county lawmakers updated the legal definition of “smoking” to include electronic cigarettes and cannabis.
“Rules regarding cigarettes and cigarette-like products have not been significantly updated in a very long time. No doubt future entrepreneurs will invent new ways to smoke, and, rather than specifically update our ordinances each time, we have written this ordinance so that the rules protecting public health should not need updating again,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, whose 3rd District includes Santa Monica.
Kuehl led the effort to update the County codes, which anticipated the development of future technologies, also defines smoking so that it covers yet-to-be-invented technologies using nicotine, cannabis or tobacco.
The ordinance will apply to County-owned facilities including the County’s approximately 5,000 buildings. The new codes require a 50-foot, instead of a 25-foot buffer, for smoking near windows and doors of County facilities, and prohibits smoking in County parking lots.
The new codes apply to the unincorporated areas of LA County, home to 1 million people and three-quarters of the County’s land. Smoking will be prohibited at hospitals, libraries, museums, bus stops, outdoor dining establishments, LA County beaches and parks, and other locations.
“According to the Centers for Disease Control, secondhand smoke causes more than 7,300 lung cancer deaths and nearly 34,000 premature deaths from heart disease among U.S. nonsmokers each year,” said Barbara Ferrer, Director of LA County’s Department of Public Health. “These changes will help save lives.”
Under current Santa Monica law, vaping is prohibited anywhere cigarettes are banned. These locations include the Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica Pier, public parks, public beaches, government buildings, all outdoor dining areas and all designated waiting areas such as bus stops and ATM lines.
Will Rogers State Beach and Venice Beach are under County jurisdiction, so vaping is now banned at these beaches. Santa Monica State Beach, while a California beach, is managed by the City of Santa Monica, meaning vaping is illegal on most beaches in Santa Monica Bay.
Josh Drayton Communications and Outreach Director for the California Cannabis Industry Association told the Santa Monica Mirror, however, that he worries these new regulations present barriers for the lawful consumption of cannabis by Los Angeles County residents.
“What really concerns me about said policies is how they are being communicated to the public,” Drayton said.
Drayton worries that under these new regulations, people may be discouraged from vaping cannabis in legal areas out of fear of breaking the law. According to Drayton, it the responsibility of jurisdictions to communicate to constituents about where they can and cannot consume cannabis.
“There needs to be a conversation of what enforcement is going to look like,” Drayton said. “There are are a lot of restrictions…we need to be coming up with solutions.”
The Santa Monica Mirror has reached out to the City of Santa Monica asking for clarification if current city law bans the vaping of cannabis products, as opposed to just nicotine, and this article will be updated accordingly once the city responds.