County Board of Health adopts ordinance to restrict e-cigarette use

Vancouver, WA —The Clark County Board of Health adopted legislation Thursday that subjects inhalant delivery systems, commonly known as e-cigarettes and vaping devices, to the same restrictions as tobacco cigarettes under the Washington State Smoking in Public Places law. The ordinance exempts businesses that exclusively sell inhalant delivery systems. Ordinance No. 2015-0418 takes effect June 1. The ordinance makes it illegal to use inhalant delivery systems in indoor public spaces, places of employment and within 25 feet of building entrances, exits, windows that open and ventilation intakes that serve an enclosed area where smoking is prohibited. The exemption was written into the ordinance following public testimony at the April 22 Board of Health meeting, when the draft ordinance was first proposed for consideration. The exemption will allow customers to sample vaping products inside vaping businesses. The exemption does not apply to other stores that sell vaping products, such as supermarkets or convenience stores, or to vaping kiosks in malls and other locations. The ordinance does not apply to private residences unless they are used to provide licensed child care or similar social service care. The ordinance does not apply to any product approved by the Food and Drug Administration for tobacco cessation or other therapeutic purposes. The ordinance protects people from secondhand vapor from inhalant delivery systems. This vapor can contain toxins such as formaldehyde, acrolein, tin, toluene and aluminum, which are associated with a range of negative health effects such as skin, eye and respiratory irritation, neurological effects, damage to reproductive systems and premature death from heart attack or stroke. Vapor has been found to contain higher concentrations of formaldehyde than tobacco smoke. “Youth will engage in behavior they see modeled by adults. This ordinance will help prevent normalization of smoking and vaping,” said Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County Health Officer. “We’ve seen an alarming rise of e-cigarette use among Clark County youth and are concerned that normalizing this behavior could promote nicotine addiction and wipe out recent gains in lowering rates of cigarette smoking.” To help local businesses comply with the ordinance, Public Health is offering free signage and will provide information to food establishments during plan review, permit and inspection processes. For signs, call (360) 397-8000 ext. 7378. In 2011, the Board of Health, whose members also serve as the Board of County Councilors, passed an ordinance prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.