Coastal California city considers e-cig regulations, advocates have time to intervene

Because electronic cigarettes resemble traditional tobacco cigarettes, they are often closely associated with their counterparts despite being very different products. Since e-cigarettes are relatively new, there are not a lot of regulations surrounding these products. People can buy electronic cigarettes online and choose the amount of nicotine they want in their e-cigarette cartridges without issue. They have also been able to enjoy using their e-cigs almost everywhere – a perk not afforded to traditional cigarettes.

However, state and city officials across the U.S. have been bringing legislation forward that is set on restricting the sale and use of e-cigarettes.

Seal Beach may soon limit e-cigs
The latest city to raise concerns is Seal Beach, Calif., where officials on the City Council are discussing e-cig shops and the effect they may have on the community, according to the Los Angeles Times. But the town's director of community development, Jim Basham, explained that any regulations would not be to attack e-cig users or lump them in with smokers.

"Whenever you have something that becomes very popular, you don't want proliferation to occur. It's not my intention to outright ban them," he told the LA Times, "but I need to better understand the potential impacts that can occur if we do have these types of smoking establishments in our city."

Still time for advocates to step in
Earlier this week, Seal Beach officials approved a 45-day moratorium to prevent any e-cigarette vendors from obtaining permits or licenses to operate their businesses, according to CBS Local. After the period is up, the council will meet again to discuss their options. If they are unable to come to a decision, they can extend the moratorium another 10 months.

Those who want to see the council support local businesses, as well as individuals who enjoy vapor cigarettes, have time to speak up and let their government know what they want before the next meeting. Starting petitions, writing letters to representatives and simply spreading awareness of the situation can bring attention to the story and let council members know what the public wants.

A clean slate means a world of possibilities
Since e-cigarettes don't have a lot of laws restricting their sale and usage right now, this means that users and advocates can help lawmakers decide what to do when they inevitably address the products. Being vocal about legislation surrounding e-cigarettes is crucial to prevent laws and regulations that unduly restrict use of e-cigs. Researchers have begun conducting more studies that test e-cigarettes to help give legislators a better picture of what these products offer and what may need to be addressed.

While this is sure to provide a better understanding of e-cigarettes, there are other aspects to consider, such as whether to group them together with traditional tobacco cigarettes. They look very similar, and e-cigs can contain nicotine, but they produce water vapor instead of smoke, and a recent study conducted by a researcher from the Drexel University School of Public Health found that these vapors do not pose a danger to users or anyone nearby. This would indicate that e-cig use in public places like restaurants, parks and offices may not need to be restricted.

People who want to get involved can look to organizations like the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association for advice on how to make their voices heard.