Wednesday, October 18 , 2017, 3:38 am | Mostly Cloudy 61º


Local News

Santa Maria Council Adds E-Cigarettes to Smoking Ban

An electronic cigarette is no different than a regular cigarette, according to the Santa Maria City Council, which decided this week to extend its public-smoking ban to the relatively new devices.

The council voted unanimously Tuesday night to add e-cigarettes — battery-powered devices that provide doses of nicotine and other additives in aerosol form — to the definition of smoking in the city’s municipal code, which means no smoking the “vapes” inside public buildings or within 20 feet of them.

The change was included in an annual list of code updates that also amended speed limits on several city streets, according to city spokesman Mark van de Kamp.

Santa Maria is just the second city in Santa Barbara County to extend its public-smoking ban to e-cigarettes. Buellton has passed a similar provision.

The city joins a growing list of municipalities nationwide that have singled out e-cigarettes, including New York and Los Angeles, which just approved a ban earlier this week.

Santa Maria City Librarian Mary Housel requested the code revision after a patron came into the library while smoking an e-cigarette two months ago.

“The staff was a little unsure how to respond to it,” Housel told Noozhawk. “They are kind of a more recent phenomenon. My personal feeling was a cigarette is a cigarette whether it’s a cigarette or an e-cigarette.

"It’s helpful to have a clear decision so we can refer to it as needed.”

Several people spoke out about the move during public comment, focusing on the health benefits as opposed to conventional cigarette smoking, but the council ignored their pleas.

Santa Barbara has yet to have a similar discussion about e-cigarettes, although the issue has come up within the Santa Barbara Unified School District.

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department is revising its policies related to tobacco, including e-cigarettes, said spokeswoman Susan Klein-Rothschild.

She said to expect some ordinance revisions later this spring.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >