A new ordinance drafted by the Los Gatos Youth Commission and passed by the Los Gatos Town Council “regulates electronic smoking devices in the same way as traditional tobacco products.” The ordinance passed on April 24. Any future anti-tobacco laws passed by the state and federal governments will automatically apply to e-cigarettes, and all existing laws regarding tobacco now also apply to e-cigarettes.
A study conducted by the FDA in 2014 found that 2.4 million high school and middle school students have used e-cigarettes. The same study showed that 1.6 million of these students regularly smoke hookahs, cigarettes, and cigars. The human brain is most vulnerable to damage during adolescence. Nicotine is a drug that is highly addictive and can cause acute toxicity; it elevates the risk of permanent brain damage.
Youth commissioner and LGHS senior Anne Zepecki commented on the process of working on this new law saying “This was the Youth Commission’s first time getting involved with the actual laws and policies of Los Gatos, and we hope that the action we took last year to become more involved in town legislature will set a precedent for the future of the Commission.”
A California state law that bans the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors, yet e cigarettes have found their way into the hands of many teens. These battery-operated devices provide nicotine, flavor, and other harmful substances, which are inhaled by the user. The vaping industry has started to target high school students, who do not realize how harmful electronic cigarettes are. Though they don’t contain tobacco, as traditional cigarettes do, e-cigarettes are composed of “vape,” which is made up of at least ten chemicals that are listed as carcinogens.
The Youth Commission, comprised of high school students from around the area, worked for six months to get this ordinance written and passed. Zepecki added, “The process of working on writing the Staff Report and identifying how to amend the ordinance was very interesting and informative for myself and the rest of the members of the subcommittee working on this project. We got the chance to work with Detective Jamie Field and the town attorney, Robert Schultz, while learning how to write up legal documents.”
Before this ordinance passed, there were no warning labels on electronic cigarettes in Los Gatos. The penalties for violating the newly enforced laws include a 100 dollar fine and a write up for the infraction.
(Sources: Council Agenda Report, San Jose Mercury News)
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