Capitol Alert

Bill would ban campus smoking, vaping in California

Vapers celebrate after a bill to regulate e-cigarettes stalled in an Assembly committee on Wednesday, July 8, 2015, in Sacramento, Calif.
Vapers celebrate after a bill to regulate e-cigarettes stalled in an Assembly committee on Wednesday, July 8, 2015, in Sacramento, Calif. AP

Colleges students across California would need to stub out their cigarettes and ditch their vape pens under a bill before the Legislature.

Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, wants to make California’s public college campuses smoke-free zones. His Assembly Bill 1594 would ban both traditional cigarettes and vaping on the grounds of California State University and community college schools.

While the University of California has had a blanket prohibition on both smoking and vaping since 2014, individual community colleges and CSU schools set their own smoking policies. Six of the 23 CSU schools currently ban smoking, and a system-wide proposal is in the works.

“They’re going slower than we would have liked, so our bill pushes the envelope by having a uniform state policy sooner rather than later,” McCarty said. “College campuses should be healthy environments to learn.”

The bill opens a new front in California’s effort to regulate electronic cigarettes, which heat a chemical mix typically containing nicotine into a fine mist. Studies show e-cigarette use soaring among young people as conventional cigarette smoking declines. Keenly aware of that surging popularity and wary of another generation getting hooked, tobacco control advocates have turned their focus to treating e-cigarettes like tobacco.

“There is more and more research coming out every day on the negative impacts of vaping for the individual and, potentially, people in the vicinity,” McCarty said.

Representatives of the e-cigarette industry dispute warnings about vaping, argue that their product offers a less harmful alternative to smoking that helps cigarette users kick the habit.

Jeremy B. White: 916-326-5543, @CapitolAlert

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