LOS ANGELES -- A Los Angeles city councilman has proposed banning all e-cigarettes and vaping devices in the city -- a measure that would be one of the most extreme steps yet to curb an outbreak of lung illnesses linked to vaping.
The proposal, introduced at Tuesday's City Council meeting, would prohibit the sale of e-cigarette and vaping devices until they are deemed safe by the Food and Drug Administration. Since the FDA has not approved any such devices, the law would essentially ban all of them. San Francisco passed a similar law earlier this year.
"The reports of illness and death caused by unregulated vaping devices is a public health crisis," reads the motion introduced by Councilman Paul Koretz. "Los Angeles is not content to wait and do nothing as the numbers of illnesses and even deaths associated with unregulated vaping devices increases daily."
Koretz's proposal to ban all vaping products was referred to a council committee focused on health, which would vet the idea before deciding whether to send it along to the full council for a vote. If passed, it would direct city lawyers to draft an ordinance for council approval.
Nationwide, more than 1,000 people have come down with lung illnesses this year after vaping, including 18 who died, according to federal health officials.
In response, politicians and public health officials have been pushing laws aimed at vaping devices and e-cigarettes, which have soared in popularity among young people in recent years. Massachusetts also recently instated a four-month ban on e-cigarettes, while Michigan and New York outlawed flavored e-cigarette products.
The wave of legislation has caused a rift among public health experts. While some believe that e-cigarette restrictions will help prevent another generation from becoming addicted to nicotine, others worry they will take away options for adults trying to quit smoking.
Some officials have compromised by banning only flavored tobacco products, which attract kids. Los Angeles County passed a ban last week that will outlaw flavored e-cigarettes as well as menthol cigarettes starting at the end of the month. The ban will apply to the 1 million people who live in unincorporated areas of the county.
Last month, L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer recommended that the City Council enact a ban on the sale of all flavored tobacco products.
"Flavored tobacco plays an outsized role in the vaping epidemic confronting our youth, and has long been a factor in increasing demand for traditional tobacco products," Feuer said in a statement. "Enacting a Citywide ban on the sale of all flavored tobacco products is the best way to safeguard our youth and protect the general public from significant health risks."
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