California: The Pacific Theater in the Electronic Cigarette War
Although many of the local governments have the best intentions, they really need to keep the small businesses in mind. Vape shop owners put up their life savings into a new venture, some even quitting their former job with benefits just to pursue something they are extremely passionate about. Often times vape shop owners as well as employees are very passionate about what they are selling because many of them are former smokers who have tried everything from the patch to the (suicidal) drug Chantix. Nothing worked for them until they’ve found electronic cigarettes. They feel by keeping the vape shop open they are doing a great service for the community by offering an alternative to smoking. Not just by offering the products, but also by having someone to guide you through how electronic cigarettes work.
In less than a two-week time period, four separate cities in California has requested amendments to their municipal codes to either heavily regulate or outright ban electronic cigarette usage. Cities including El Cerrito, Woodland, Manteca, and San Leandro are the cities presenting these amendments.
It seems strange but California (Southern California to be exact) has been one of the more progressive areas in spearheading some of the latest and greatest when it comes to newer electronic cigarettes, newer E-Juice flavors, and new atomizers. In fact, it seems a new electronic cigarette store pops up every couple of weeks in California alone. A lot of small business owners put up a lot of their own money to start their new business venture. For the longest time, these businesses were thriving and doing extremely well.
Most online businesses actually are based in California too (some of my favorite stores are based in the Southern California region). So how does this affect business? Well, it depends on the area. For El Cerrito, they are basically restricting any electronic cigarette usage to primary residency only. What they plan to do is classify e-cigs under the Smoking Pollution Protection Ordinance; by doing so this would force all electronic cigarette usage out of the public which could include vape shops as well. Essentially potential customers cannot try their new devices or E-Juices in stores and would have to wait until they get home to try it.
This definitely changes the game plan of the local businesses as a lot of their vape shops thrive on new customers being able to try new E-Juices and devices prior to making an initial investment. If this ordinance passes, new customers will be more hesitant to try new devices and flavors even with a money back policy from the stores. http://www.el-cerrito.org/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/1922
For Woodland, they want to classify electronic cigarettes as the same as cigarettes in such a way that anywhere you can’t smoke you can’t vape either. Which for the most part, isn’t such a huge deal. However, this does include city parks, sporting events, fairs, and, etc. These places have banned smoking to begin with to avoid further littering and air pollution.
By classifying electronic cigarettes the same as smoking, the city is stating that vapor production is harmful to second hand as well, which as most of us know is not true. In their ordinance amendment, one of the reasons given for classification of electronic cigarettes as smoking is the lack of long-term studies as well as potential harmful chemicals may be produced. So basically they are banning something not only with insufficient evidence but also that it could (something that has not be proven, in fact quite the opposite actually) be harmful. https://cityofwoodland.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=A&ID=336227&GUID=598B5236-D2FD-4D56-BE17-DEE1B97BF60A
For San Leandro, thankfully nothing has been written in stone or on paper for this matter. Right now they have a scheduled meeting for the 2nd of September 2014 for an open discussion of possible regulation and possible amendments to the municipal code to how to properly deal with the electronic cigarette situation. If it is anything like the other cities, they will most likely move on something very similar in regards to regulation. https://sanleandro.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=1893269&GUID=9D6447CA-7C32-4865-96E2-1C21788CBA24
And finally there’s Manteca which would be very similar to other towns and cities in relation to regulation but they are allowing vape shops to allow the usage of electronic cigarettes indoors. This should allow businesses to keep their status quo; however this would mean businesses would have to register their shop as a tobacco store and would require a specific license to do so (similar to a liquor license). Yes, this would be an additional cost to the business but it’s much better than having to close down. Hopefully applying for a license would be simple and not require any type of bribing, but then again I may have seen too many movies. http://manteca-ca.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=2&event_id=48&meta_id=27633