Follow the children

Council should approve ordinance banning e-cigs in places smoking is prohibited

Thanks to two Chico teenagers, the City Council is poised to add e-cigarettes to the city ordinance regulating the smoking of tobacco products.

The issue was brought to the council in April by two Bidwell Junior High students, Moana Larsen and Natalie Chivichon. They are members of the group KLEAN (Kids Leading Everyone Against Nicotine), which advocates against tobacco use and nicotine addiction.

After listening to their presentation, Councilwoman Ann Schwab submitted a request to “agendize the subject of treating e-cigarettes the same as cigarettes and other tobacco products and ask council to consider including the prohibition on the use of e-cigarettes in all public places where smoking is currently prohibited by city ordinance.”

At its May 5 meeting, the council asked the city attorney to draw up a draft ordinance. On June 10, the council’s Internal Affairs Committee approved the draft; it could come back to the council as soon as July 7.

Whether e-cigarettes are as harmful to health as tobacco cigarettes is the subject of fierce debate. It’s not debatable that their use involves inhaling chemicals into the lungs, which is inevitably unhealthful. And the nicotine they deliver to the smoker’s system is highly addictive, which is much of the reason why, in just a few years, e-cigs have become a multibillion-dollar industry.

The city’s tobacco ordinance is designed to protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke. How harmful secondhand vapor from e-cigs is remains unclear, but there’s no reason to take chances.

Besides, it’s important to discourage all kinds of smoking, whether of tobacco, e-cigs or marijuana. There’s enough pollution in the air already without deliberately inhaling smoke into our lungs.

We’re grateful to Moana and Natalie for their upstanding citizenship. They are indeed “kids leading everyone against nicotine.”