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Lathrop may regulate sale of e-cigarettes

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POSTED May 21, 2014 1:53 a.m.

Just because that e-cigarette is electronic doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s welcome everywhere.

Whether the Lathrop City Council is willing to make that official or not remains to be seen. 

On Monday the council listened to a proposal by City Attorney Salvador Navarrete that would preemptively legislate against the latest smoking fad – personal vaporizers that deliver nicotine-enhanced juices that are often a mixture of propylene glycol and flavorings – as a way to regulate an industry that is booming in popularity with almost no legal oversight outside of restricting sales to minors. 

While California curbed smoking indoors in public places in 1995, most e-cigarettes – or the process of “vaping” – doesn’t fall under that purview. Since there’s no smoke exhaled – advocates say that it’s only a cloud of water vapors – then it technically, so the argument goes, doesn’t qualify as “smoking.”

But what is in those e-cigarettes and the juices that are often filled and refilled is known only to the people who mix them, and therein lies the concern.

Lathrop’s move on e-cigs could also include a swipe at another law-skirting practice that has also attracted a much younger, hipper crowd since it burst onto the scene a decade ago – the “hookah.”

Typically a waterpipe with multiple hoses and a central area for whatever material that is to be smoked located at the top of the pipe, hookahs have been popular in Middle Eastern countries for centuries and started making a comeback when people realized that as long as what was being smoked wasn’t tobacco and wasn’t any other illegal substance, there really wasn’t much regulation involved. 

But this time there is definitely smoke involved. 

Much like its vaporized cousin, hookah materials are often flavored and can be 100 percent tobacco or any blend thereof all the way down to a completely artificial mixture that the Centers for Disease Control claims may contain poisonous and toxic chemicals that are much more dangerous than traditional cigarettes. 

Lathrop wouldn’t necessarily ban the purchase, sale or use of vaporizers or e-cigarettes or even hookahs, but rather place restrictions on businesses that specialize in them so that there is municipal oversight. 

The council, with Councilman Steve Dresser absent, chose not to place a moratorium on the matter during Monday’s proceedings. The matter will likely be revisited during a future council meeting. 

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