Capitol Alert

Bill by Sen. Mark Leno would put major restrictions on e-cigs

Ken Miguel of San Jose puffs on an e-cigarette in 2013 at The Vape Bar in San Jose.
Ken Miguel of San Jose puffs on an e-cigarette in 2013 at The Vape Bar in San Jose. Dai Sugano/ Bay Area News Group

Californians would be prohibited from “vaping” electronic cigarettes in bars, restaurants, hospitals and other workplaces under a bill state Sen. Mark Leno introduced Monday.

Senate Bill 140 would restrict the use of e-cigarettes in all the same places Californians are prohibited from smoking traditional cigarettes, an idea that has been floated in previous legislation but never advanced very far. A Bee analysis last year found that several anti-smoking bills were shelved as an increasing number of Democratic legislators accepted campaign cash from cigarette manufacturers.

“No tobacco product should be exempt from California’s smoke-free laws simply because it’s sold in a modern or trendy disguise,” said a statement from Leno, D-San Francisco. “Addiction is what’s really being sold. Like traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes deliver nicotine in a cloud of other toxic chemicals, and their use should be restricted equally under state law in order to protect public health.”

Leno’s bill is sponsored by a coalition of health organizations, including the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association and American Lung Association.

Prior legislation to restrict the places where Californians can consume e-cigarettes met stiff opposition from cigarette companies, many of which have expanded to manufacture the electronic devices known as “vape pipes” and “hookah pens.” The products have become popular with teenagers. Existing law bans the sale of e-cigarettes to minors in California, but Leno’s statement said enforcement is lax. His bill would beef up enforcement of the ban on selling to youth.

Call Laurel Rosenhall, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1083. Follow her on Twitter @LaurelRosenhall.