Six people have died from a mysterious lung disease believed to be caused by vaping while hundreds others have fallen ill, sparking plans by both national and local lawmakers to crack down on e-cigarettes and other battery-powered vaporizers.
San Jose Councilwoman Magdalena Carrasco announced Thursday that she wants to ban the sale of e-cigs and flavored tobacco products that haven’t been approve by the FDA.
“While we have combatted the rise in cigarette use, vaping companies have been successful in recapturing their audience through the use of flavored products that are marketed towards children,” Carrasco said in a statement to reporters.
According to a recent study, nearly one in three teens in Santa Clara County have tried vaping. And in San Jose, more than one in four tobacco retailers lie within two blocks of a school. That’s why Carrasco wants to ban the sale of tobacco products within 1,000 feet of K-12 campuses and places where kids gather and within 500 feet of other businesses that sell tobacco and related products.
Mary Ann Dewan, the superintendent of the Santa Clara County Office of Education, has called the recent surge in vaping a “health crisis.”
“Youth are experiencing health consequences such as increased anxiety, seizures, illness, and withdrawal symptoms appearing during the school day,” she said. “The data show that youth under the age of 21 are gaining access to these products. I support the recommendations to restrict the sales of these products to protect the health of our youth and ensure retailers comply with the law.”
Carrasco, who represents East San Jose, said she was especially concerned for children in her own turf, District 5, and downtown, where people are more likely to come in contact with tobacco products or marketing for tobacco products.
“Communities with lower household income, more single parent households, less education and more children in poverty have higher concentrations of tobacco retailers such as downtown and East San Jose,” she said. “Flavored tobacco products are intentionally marketed towards youth and communities of color.”
Carrasco also wants to update a city rule that allows tobacco sellers to operate without a municipal license if they bar anyone from entering the store that isn’t 18. But as of 2016, you must be 21 in California to buy and consume tobacco products.
“Our ordinance does not align with state law and is allowing a loophole for our youth to enter these shops and illegally purchase products without proper city monitoring,” Carrasco said. “If an unlicensed vape shop sells tobacco to a person under the age of 21, we have little city recourse without the utilization of a licensing requirement.”
Carrasco’s proposal will be heard by the Rules Committee at 2pm Wednesday in W118 at City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St.