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Seal Beach extends ban on e-cigarette sales

Posted by esigaret on September 3, 2014 at 2:30 PM

A freeze on new e-cigarette sellers, in effect since August, was extended for up to 10 months and 15 days by the City Council on Monday night.

 

The city is trying to regulate e-cigarettes in its city code while accommodating company proprietors who promote themselves as friendly to the community and seek a license to market the nicotine - vaporizing devices.

Article Tab: Electronic cigarettes look much like traditional ones but don't burn tobacco. Instead, they are furnished with a small heating element that vaporizes refillable liquids that contain nicotine.

 

Electronic cigarettes look much like conventional ones but do not burn tobacco. Instead, they're equipped with a small heating element that vaporizes refillable liquids that include nicotine.

 

FILE PHOTO: DAVID BRO, THE REGISTER

Regulating e-cigarette sales

 

Seal Beach can choose to regulate e-cigarette sales in a couple of ways, as identified by Director of Community Development Jim Basham in his report to the town, though others could be suggested:

 

-- Amending Seal Beach's zoning code to conditionally permit e-cigarette sales in certain commercial zones a particular distance from locations such as schools and parks. Each business would be viewed on a case - by - case basis.

 

- - Adopting an ordinance that regulates e-cigarette shops but not restricting where they could be located.

 

-- Adopting both of the preceding.

 

-- Prohibiting such uses citywide by amending the zoning code.

 

"We want to do this once and we wish to do this right," stated City Manager Jill Ingram, describing why city staff was requesting the longest possible expansion of the moratorium.

 

An ordinance or zoning changes could be readied before the end-of such period, Aug. 25, 2014, a year following the moratorium was first enacted. Seal Beach was the first city in Orange County to limit e-cigarette sales.

 

E-cigarettes are not mentioned in the city's municipal code, therefore selling them right now is prohibited, Councilwoman Ellery Deaton said.

 

"I undoubtedly don't believe it should be any more stringent" than cigarette regulation Deaton said.

 

In researching restrictions since the moratorium went into effect, Community Development Director Jim Basham said he discovered that businesses can sell the devices in Seal Beach without updating their permits, in a few instances close to schools and playgrounds.

 

"I have to discover which are the appropriate industrial zones that it should be allowed in," Basham said.

 

He said he didn't know how city code would be enforced on those companies which are selling e-cigarettes. Identifying what kind of regulation to enforce will take some time, he said.

 

The request by the owners of eVolution for a permit to sell e-cigarettes in August was the catalyst for the moratorium. That company says it plans on waiting until the prohibition is lifted so it could open a shop it hopes will set "a higher, more tasteful standard for the whole industry," coowner Victoria Towers said.

 

She and co-owner Brian DePalma were upset following the city didn't extend the moratorium for a shorter interval, such as 90 days. But they said they weren't leaving the e-cigarette shop concept within town.

 

"We believe within our vision, our shop, as well as our city," said Towers, a Seal Beach resident.

 

Most council members were in favor of a shorter extension as well, but Basham insisted it would take at least three months to learn which city's regulations would be best to use as a model for Seal Beach. He also warned that laws would suffer for being hurried.

 

"Pushing staff to the restricting time period is not going to get you a quality record," Basham said.

 

Council members voted 4-1, with Michael Levitt dissenting, to approve the extension; they also formally requested the law be handed in whenever possible.

 

Several e-cigarette smokers showed up to the meeting to testify the products are safe and that eVolution could only serve to improve the quality of life in Seal Beach.

 

"It's just going to stop people from continuing to smoke," Seal Beach resident and e-cigarette person Debra White said.

 

However, some worries were expressed by two ladies who own Sweet 1017, next door to eVolution's future location within the Seal Beach Center. They said they stressed that vapers, as e-cigarette consumers are called, would congregate outside their door and that eVolution might entice children in the way some hookah bars have.

 

"I think that it's fantastic that anybody wants to stop smoking. Our concern may be the young children that are coming in," Carolyn Rullo said.

 

E-cigarettes are prohibited from the local school district, Los Alamitos Unified School District Superintendent Sherry Kropp stated, since the devices are considered to be tobacco products.

 

Like the city, the district hasn't expressly prohibited e-cigarettes, though "we likely will, because we they're getting so popular," Kropp said in a telephone interview.

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