California has applied the brakes to slow the vaping craze after Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday signed legislation to prohibit electronic cigarette use in restaurants, theaters, schools and other public places where smoking is already banned.
Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) said the new law — which will take effect June 9 — is needed because vaping has become especially popular with middle and high school kids.
"Ensuring that e-cigarettes fall under California's comprehensive smoke-free laws is critical to protecting public health, especially given the alarming rate at which young people are picking up these devices," Leno said Wednesday after the governor signed his bill.
The measure defines e-cigarettes as tobacco products, barring their use in workplaces, schools, hospitals and on public transit. The bill also requires vaping devices and liquids to be sold in child-resistant packaging. They also cannot be marketed to minors.
Leno accused the industry of marketing to minors in the past with flavors including bubble gum and watermelon. Vaping devices heat a flavored liquid often mixed with nicotine and other chemicals to generate an inhalable vapor.
The state senator cited a study last year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found the use of e-cigarettes by high school students tripled from 2013 to 2014.
"This legislation will negatively impact California small business, of which there are approximately 1,400 vaping retail locations, plus hundreds of manufacturers, distributors and related businesses that contribute to the state's economy, generating taxes and thousands of jobs," the group said in a statement.
However, the new law was hailed as landmark legislation by health officials, including Olivia Gertz, president and CEO of the American Lung Assn. in California.
"SBX2 5 is an important and necessary piece of legislation that will ensure our youth are protected from a lifetime of nicotine addiction," Gertz said. "With flavors such as bubble gum and Captain Crunch, these products are clearly targeted at our youth, and as a result, there has been a rapid increase in e-cigarette use among middle and high school-aged children."
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