The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors has voted to ban the sale or distribution of electronic cigarettes in unincorporated areas of the county, potentially impacting 47 licensed retailers.
The board unanimously approved amendments to the ordinance prohibiting the devices, citing their negative health impacts and the rising trend of youth who use them.
Supervisor Carole Groom said the ban is not to harm small businesses but “really to make sure our young people are healthy and safe in this community.” She cited mounting reports of lung illnesses that have “sickened at least 2,051 people and killed 39,” according to this CNBC report citing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Young people are often impacted, particularly in San Mateo County, where the 2017-18 California Student Tobacco Survey showed that nearly 21 percent of high school students in San Mateo County use electronic cigarettes, higher than the statewide prevalence of 10.9 percent, according to County health officials. The cigarette use rate among high school students in the County is 3.1 percent.
Supervisor Dave Pine, whose son is in high school, said the rapid popularity of electronic cigarettes is on its own alarming.
“It really is incredible to the degree in which these devices have come into high schools,” he said, adding, “The use has really exploded.”
Last year, the Board banned the sale of flavored tobacco products and pharmacy sales of all tobacco products.
Enforcement of the latest ban won’t kick in for about six months.
Meanwhile, in San Francisco, the first major city to ban the sale of e-cigarettes, voters just decisively rejected a repeal of the ban.