By Steve Dreyer
Poway may soon join the growing list of cities around the state banning the use of electronic cigarettes in public areas.
A proposed ordinance will be reviewed at the City Council’s Feb. 4 meeting. The measure would prohibit e-cigarette use in public buildings, grounds, parks and trails. Tobacco cigarette smoking is already banned in these locations.
“Electronic cigarettes pose unknown health risks, are increasingly popular with minors, and undermine smoke-free ordinance enforcement capabilities,” Interim City Manager Tina White wrote in a report to the council.
E-cigarettes have been banned in Carlsbad and Vista, White noted. Similar bans are under consideration in La Mesa and San Diego. Current state law prohibits their sale to minors but does not regulate where they can be used.
The devices are battery-powered and permit the user to inhale water vapor without producing fire, smoke or carbon monoxide. They use cartridges, generally containing nicotine, to deliver vapors to the user.
“Despite the potential use of e-cigarettes as an aid to quitting smoking, there are significant health concerns related to e-cigarettes,” White wrote. “In particular, a limited analysis by the Food and Drug Administration found that e-cigarettes do contain carcinogens, including nitrosamines as well as toxic chemicals such as diethylene glycol.
“Although e-cigarettes do not produce the same smoke as traditional cigarettes, they do produce a cloud of vapors containing unknown substances and sometimes produce an unpleasant odor. The possible health effects of bystanders breathing or absorbing these vapors through their skin is unknown.”
White added that the use of e-cigarettes in smoke-free locations “complicates compliance.”
“It is difficult to distinguish between regular cigarettes and e-cigarettes without physically inspecting the object in question, which has resulted in an increase in contacts between smokers and enforcement personnel.”
The City Council will meet at 7 p.m. on Tuesday Feb. 4 in the council chambers, 13325 Civic Center Drive.
Other items on the agenda include:
• A reorganization of the city clerk and city manager’s offices. White proposes to create the position of deputy city clerk, replacing the currently vacant position of records technician. The new position would pay $64,331 per year. That’s 29 percent more than the $49,914 salary of the vacant post. White said that the position is needed in light of additional responsibilities now assigned to the city clerk. White also proposes a job promotion for Carol Legg, who is the confidential senior administrative assistant in the city manager’s office. Her new position would be executive assistant to the city manager. Her salary would increase 22 percent, to $64,331, the same as the deputy city clerk. Poway had both proposed new positions until 2007, when they were both vacated, White said.
• A workshop session on ways the city might expand sending out notices of public hearings beyond just to property owners of record.