L.A.'s E-Cigarette Ban Is Gonna Happen (Very Soon)
Hopes of a last-minute reprieve are slim.
L.A.'s controversial e-cigarette ban, which includes restaurants, bars, clubs, outdoor dining areas, food trucks, city farmers markets, parks, beaches, many office buildings and more, is going to be the law at midnight on April 19, the City Clerk's office says.
See also: L.A. E-Cigarette Ban Approved
The ordinance, which treats "vaping" the same as cigarette smoking, was unanimously approved by the L.A. City Council on March 4 and then endorsed by the mayor's office the next day, putting its execution into motion. However ...
... there's still a chance that a voter referendum seeking to overturn the ban could happen.
Opponents would have 30 days from tomorrow to turn in signatures from the equivalent of "10 percent of the total number of votes cast for all candidates for the office of mayor at the last general municipal election," states the clerk's office.
And they'd have to get the "language" of the petitions (the documents asking you to sign up) approved by the clerk and the City Attorney, which could take 10 days to two weeks or more, we were told. That makes getting thousands of endorsements by April 21 or so a long shot.
We spoke to one nightlife entrepreneur who was talking about a possible referendum organized by fellow club and restaurant owners, but it doesn't look like there's much movement.
Without a miracle, then, hitting that "vape" in your favorite watering hole will be illicit and grounds for your removal. Or maybe not.
Tim Goldberg, owner of the Vapeday vaporizer store and lounge on Pico Boulevard in South Carthay, notes that it could be hard to catch someone who's vaping. There's a metal, penlike device, a light and a cloud of steam, sure.
But, he says:
"They'll have to catch them directly in the act," he told us. "They take a hit and they stick it back in their pocket. It's not like something's on fire for two or three minutes, like with smoking. There will be no way to enforce it. [When confronted], vape users will say, 'I don't know what you're talking about.'"
Like a lot of folks in the pro-vape crowd, Goldberg thinks the City Council acted without any proof that vaping is as harmful as smoking. The jury's still out on whether the steam produced by e-cigarettes, which generally heat up nicotine-based liquid, is harmful to bystanders.
He argues that vaporizers are a good way for smokers to quit cigarettes.
Many bar, club and restaurant owners are disappointed with the ban because they were happy to have the business of content vape users in their venues ordering more food and drinks instead of standing outside.
But Goldberg thinks the ban won't hurt his own business of selling e-cigarettes, accessories and nicotine refills. Vape lounges and stores are exempt from the law, so people can legally press their buttons at those locations. But he thinks there will still be plenty of buyers, too:
It's only going to help me. When things are banned or illegal, it makes it cooler to do.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss LA Weekly's biggest stories.
- Super Bowl Weekend DUI Crackdown Starts Tonight
- Taxpayer-Backed Earthquake Warnings Go to Secret List of Private Companies
- El Niño Who? Summer-Like Conditions Are on the Way