Following the L.A. City Council's decision yesterday to ban e-cigarettes at the same places where smoking is prohibited, including, clubs, bars and restaurants (not to mention parks, beaches, markets and many office buildings), some nightlife denizens are outraged.
See also: L.A. E-Cigarette Ban Approved
Vapes or vaporizers have been a welcome addition to many bars, clubs and eateries that wouldn't normally allow smoking; many business owners feel the water-vapor discharge is inoffensive. They keep erstwhile smokers inside, too, where they can order more food and drinks.
One club owner even told us he's thinking about starting a voter referendum that would provide an exception for clubs and bars.
L.A. City Councilman Joe Buscaino, who represents the South Bay, tried to do just that yesterday. Buscaino proposed an exemption for 21-and-older venues that serve alcohol, but his amendment was shot down by an 8-6 vote.
"I was two votes shy," he told us. "My amendment would have allowed the business owners to choose whether or not to allow e-cigarettes."
The councilman argues that the ordinance passed by the council "went too far regarding personal liberties."
He says the jury's still out on the potential harm involved with vaporizers, which involve a heat element and liquid cartridges containing nicotine.
I don't like smoking. I hate the smell of it. But we're talking about e-cigarettes, not cigarettes. The science is not there yet.
Some on the council argued that banning vapes at bars, clubs and restaurants was a matter of workplace safety for employees who spend a lot of their time at those places.
City Councilman Paul Krekorian, in supporting Buscaino's amendment, told the body yesterday that the city shouldn't be in the business of workplace safety when the state has jurisdiction over the matter via its Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA).
"Krekorian argued righteously that this issue is not suited for a City Council but that it' s for Cal/OSHA," Buscaino told us.
"We heard loud and clear from restaurants, bar owners, and a business community that asked for exclusion from this ban," Buscaino said.
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Indeed, Matt Sutton, VP of government affairs for the California Restaurant Association, wrote to to the council Monday calling local regulation of e-cigarettes "unnecessary and premature at best."
We asked Buscaino if he would support a referendum that would provide a nightlife exception for vaping within in city limits. Here's what he said:
I'd like to hear the game plan to see what the strategy will be.