Vaporizer pen
A person smoking flavored tobacco with a vaporizer pen. Photo by Lindsay Fox of ecigarettereviewed.com via Wikimedia Commons

The Board of Supervisors Tuesday formally approved a one-year moratorium on the sale and distribution of electronic smoking devices in unincorporated areas of San Diego County, along with a ban on the sale of flavored and smokeless tobacco products.

The ban also applies to outdoor smoking at restaurants. Regulations and the moratorium will take effect July 1.

Hookah tobacco use is exempt from the ordinance for the time being.

The board’s vote was 3-2 — with Supervisors Jim Desmond and Kristin Gaspar opposed.

Desmond stressed that he wants to ensure children aren’t using dangerous tobacco products, but called the ordinance “government overreach.”

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said while he’s not unsympathetic to those who make a living from selling vaping-related products, he’s more sympathetic to public health concerns.

Opponents, many of them smoke/vaping shop owners, angrily criticized the supervisors who voted in favor of the ordinance law: Greg Cox, Fletcher and Dianne Jacob.

Molly Sylvester, a vaping shop owner, said the county has not done anything to combat “pop-up” tobacco shops, “as you close down 40 family- owned business who had nothing to do with this.”

However, anti-smoking advocates praised the ordinance, saying it is needed to protect children and curb an epidemic of vaping-related illnesses.

Linda Barber, government relations director for the American Cancer Society, thanked the three board members for their leadership and “standing up against Big Tobacco.”

— City News Service