The Richmond City Council adopted an ordinance restricting the sale of electronic cigarette products that have not yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“I would remind you it was approved on the first reading,” Mayor Tom Butt said at the outset of discussion on Sept. 10. “This is the second reading that’s required for adoption.”
“For me, this item, along with actions the city has taken over the last 10 years or so, continues to be personal,” Butt said. “Both my parents died from tobacco-related illnesses.”
It was placed on the consent calendar, meaning the council intended to vote without debating it specifically, but roughly two-dozen individuals came for public comment — including many high school students and public health advocates.
Several individuals advocated against the ordinance, citing the importance of allowing adults to make their own personal choices and potential impacts on local entrepreneurs who earn an income through e-cigarette sales.
Despite the ordinance’s passage, that viewpoint found some support on the dais.
“I’m a libertarian when it comes to these sort of things,” Councilman Jael Myrick said. “Adults should be able to pick their poison.”
“But some other things have kind of pushed me to be more supportive of this ban and well, and I’ve got to tell you, it’s not what the supporters of this ban have been doing.”
“I can’t go on Facebook without seeing an advertisement lying. … I’m not going to be on the side of the folks who are lying to my community, targeting my community, and targeting my children,” Myrick said.
A motion to take a vote was made by Councilman Melvin Willis and the vote to adopt the second reading of the ordinance passed unanimously.
Elsewhere in Contra Costa County, District 2 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff asked county staff to look into the possibility of banning the use of all “vaping” products within the county’s boundaries.
“With the recent national news, I think it’s critical that we get ahead of … everything,” Mitchoff said.
At least six people have died and dozens more have been hospitalized nationwide as a result of an emerging and mysterious respiratory illness related to the use of e-cigarettes or cannabis-based vaping products containing THC, according to CNN.
President Donald Trump has proposed new policies that could take flavored e-cigarette products off the market.