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City Council Blowing a lot of Smoke Over Dangers of the E- cigarette

By: Ruarri Serpa

Oceanside CA- In a meeting last month, council members voiced strong words against e-cigarettes, a largely unregulated tool for inhaling vaporized oils. Councilwoman Sanchez compared e-cigarettes to substance abuse issues of the past. “In my day, when I was in high-school, the big thing was glue-sniffing to get high,” Sanchez said. Councilman Kern compared one of the ingredients in the oil that gives the e-cigarettes their flavor to other harmful chemicals. “It’s basically smoking anti-freeze.”

But e-cigarettes work by heating a flavored, vegetable-based oil. There is no fire, no ash, and often no nicotine. Roughly half of oils available in Oceanside’s e-cigarette retailers are free of the addictive additive in traditional cigarettes.

“It’s basically ‘he said – she said,’ at this point,” said Joseph Noland, owner of Street Laced on Pacific Coast Highway, which sells e-cigarettes. There are currently no FDA studies to inform the public, or council members of the health effects of e-cigarettes.

“It just fills that habit of needing to puff on something,” Noland continued. He gave his mother e-cigarettes, without nicotine, and she smoked fewer packs of traditional cigarettes per week.

One of Councilman Kern’s concerns rose from a particular ingredient, propylene glycol, which is also used in anti-freeze. Because of its low freezing temperature, the compound has many applications that would make any person wary of ingesting the substance. But the Center for Disease Control states that it has many uses in the preservation, and packaging of food, and The Food and Drug Administration labels the chemical, “Generally Recognized as Safe,” with no reason to suspect hazard to the public.

Council members also said that they have seen kids using the same devices, which are slightly larger than a pen, to smoke marijuana. None of the e-cigarette vendors that spoke with OsideNews, however, allow marijuana, or oils that contain THC, inside their stores.

“It’s the dispensaries that do that,” said Noland. Other stores wouldn’t even allow customers to bring in devices that were intended for vaporizing marijuana, even if the purchase was for a compatible battery pack.

Council members discussed regulations on the sale, and public-use of the tobacco-less devices to combat underage “smoking.” One method would ban e-cigarettes in public parks, and county beaches, while another would expand the retail licensing ordinance to limit the number of future businesses. Though they did not come up with a final plan, they gave City Attorney until March to develop a plan.

All of the sellers, though, did recognize the need to practice common courtesy with e-cigarettes, and do not advocate using them in restaurants, or in parks around children. “I understand where they’re coming from,” Noland said. “I don’t need someone blowing stuff in my face, when I’m trying to eat. I just don’t agree with what they’re doing.”

Ruarri Serpa is a freelance reporter from Oceanside, CA. You can contact him directly at RuarriS@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: @Ruarris

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