TACOMA, Wash. —Tacoma-Pierce County Board of Health unanimously approved new e-cigarettes and vaping regulations at its Nov. 18 meeting. The intent of the new regulations is to stem the tide of usage among youth under 18 and to protect the public from second hand vapor exposure. The new local regulations will go into effect Jan. 1, 2016.
Before voting, the five-member Board listened to 37 people during more than an hour of public testimony—both for and against the regulations. In addition, the Board received more than 700 pages of email and public comment transcripts from the six-month long public process.
“During the 10-year anniversary of our state’s Smoking in Public Places law, the Tacoma-Pierce County Board of Health has once again taken a leadership position to protect public health—especially our youth,” said Director of Health Anthony L-T Chen, MD, MPH.
The amended resolution passed today makes an exception for limited sampling of e-juice in vape shops. Otherwise, using vapor products is now prohibited in all public places and worksites, consistent with the Washington state Smoking in Public Places law. Youth under 18 will not be permitted to possess vapor products, and retailers will need an annual permit to sell vapor products. In addition, the regulations will require child resistant packaging for e-cigarette liquids sold in Pierce County.
In 2011, the local Board of Health passed regulations to prohibit e-cigarette sales to youth and prohibited their use in public places, except in adult only venues. The regulations did not prohibit youth from possessing e-cigarettes.
The Health Department conducted an extensive public input process on the proposed regulations. Staff took comments on the proposed regulations at a Sept. 23 public meeting and via email and mail until Oct. 19. In addition, since July, the Department has gathered extensive input on the proposed regulations through surveys, meetings and online forums with parents, vape shop owners and vapers, community organizations, community leaders, business owners, school district representatives, law enforcement, State of Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board, and others.
Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department joins local health jurisdictions in Clark, Grant, King and Snohomish counties in regulating e-cigarette use in public places. Tacoma-Pierce County Board of Health decided to explore local e-cigarette regulations after the state legislature failed to pass any legislation on the issue during the last session, which ended July 2015.
Worldwide, tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death. In the United States, the increasing popularity of electronic cigarettes and vapor products may pose health threats and create a new generation of addicts. Locally, one in five Pierce County 10th graders uses these products—double the number who smokes cigarettes.
View complete regulations, the draft amendment, permits and fees, and the administrative record of public testimony and written comments, surveys, Board of Health presentations and handouts, and more at www.tpchd.org/ecigarettes.
About Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department: Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s mission is to safeguard and enhance the health of the communities of Pierce County. As part of its mission, the Health Department tackles known and emerging health risks through policy, programs and treatment in order to protect public health. Learn more at www.tpchd.org.