City Council to consider temporary ban on sales of e-cigarettes in Long Beach

The City Council next week will consider a temporary ban on e-cigarette sales citywide amid reports of hundreds of vaping related pulmonary injuries nationwide, including two cases in Long Beach.

Third District Councilwoman Suzie Price proposed the idea which, if approved by the council, would direct the city attorney to draft an ordinance that would temporarily ban the sale of flavored vapor products in Long Beach.

“For months my staff and I have been following the growing vaping issue with the belief that vaping can present a health problem, especially with much of it being marketed toward teens and children,” Price told the Post.

Price noted the reported increases in youth nicotine consumption, specifically in vaping among high school students, while youth smoking has dropped.

The temporary ban would not extend to vaping products containing THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.

Price said she wanted the agenda item to be “as focused and narrow as possible” so there is no unintended consequences to this policy.

“Additionally, marijuana products are not being marketed as aggressively to children,” Price said. “In Long Beach we have worked closely with our marijuana businesses and are seeing compliance with ordinances and very few bad actors.”

The Long Beach Collective Association, a local nonprofit trade association comprising cannabis operators, addressed the vaping-related illnesses and deaths on social media on Tuesday.

“The Long Beach Collective Association is deeply disturbed by the recent vaping-related illnesses and deaths,” it stated. “The LBCA continues to highlight the safety of buying from legal dispensaries such as tested products […].”

The LBCA asked the “cannabis chain supply” to test their batches for Vitamin E acetate, an oil thickener used in the illicit market and linked to some illnesses.

Currently, legal cannabis products are mandated to test for mold, heavy metals, pesticides, and other microbials.

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[PSA: ATTENTION] Dear Cannabis Community…. Leading the city in cannabis advocacy and policy, The Long Beach Collective Association is deeply disturbed by the recent vaping-related illnesses and deaths.  The LBCA continues to highlight the safety of buying from legal dispensaries such as tested products as well as participation in state and local taxes, social-equity efforts, provides living wages to a new workforce, and engages the community in advocacy. •  The LBCA's position in light of the recent news asks the cannabis chain supply to test for cutting agents in their batches such as Vitamin E acetate (used as thickener on the illicit market). LBCA member, BelCosta Labs nows offers Vitamin E acetate testing. Currently, legal cannabis products are mandatory tested for mold, heavy metals, pesticides, and other microbials. •  The Long Beach Collective Association continues cannabis education in the community and provides updates through their website at TheLBCA.com as well as social media platform @TheLBCA. Send any questions or concerns to [email protected] . #TheLBCA #LongBeach #LongBeachCanbabis #psa

A post shared by The LBCA (@thelbca) on

Price said she expects it will take a few weeks to develop an enforcement plan “that coordinates and supplements state and federal policies” that she believes will be in place soon.

“Personally, I am not in a rush to restore vaping product sales in the city,” Price said. “We have to protect the consumers, especially the youth.”

In the last week, both local and state health officials have issued warnings to consumers about the dangers of vaping tobacco or cannabis, urging them to refrain from using the products.

On Tuesday, The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a ban on flavored tobacco products in unincorporated areas of the county.

Elsewhere in the country, states like Michigan, New York and Massachusetts announced their intent to ban e-cigarette sales to varying degrees.

The Trump administration has also announced plans to stop the sales of flavored e-cigarettes.

According to figures released by the Centers for Disease Control today, there have been over 800 cases of lung injury reported from 46 states and one U.S. territory. A total of 12 deaths have been confirmed in 10 states.

California has reported 81 cases since late June, including two deaths, according to local health officials who also announced two cases of Vaping Associated Pulmonary Injury (VAPI) in the city during the month of August.

For 373 cases, nearly 72% of cases are male and 67% are 18 to 34 years old.

“Most patients have reported a history of using e-cigarette products containing THC,” the CDC stated. “Many patients have reported using THC and nicotine. Some have reported the use of e-cigarette products containing only nicotine.”

CDC officials said they do not yet know the specific cause of these lung injuries. Their investigation has not identified any specific e-cigarette or vaping product or substance linked to all cases.

Symptoms of VAPI include coughing, difficulty breathing, fever, and in some cases vomiting and diarrhea.

“In light of these urgent health concerns it would be appropriate for the City of Long Beach to enact a temporary ban on the sale of flavored vapor products and evaluate the health impacts before lifting the ban during this national health emergency,” Price’s memo stated.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with a statement from the Long Beach Collective Association on the recent vaping-related illnesses and deaths. 

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Stephanie Rivera is the immigration and diversity reporter for the Long Beach Post. Growing up as one of six kids in the working-class immigrant suburb of South Gate, she was taught the importance of civic engagement and to show compassion for others. After graduating from CSULB with a degree in journalism, Stephanie worked for Patch Latino and City News Service before coming to the Long Beach Post in 2015. An avid Harry Potter fan, Stephanie now lives in Bixby Knolls with her boyfriend and their bearded dragon, Austin.
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