County leaders call for ban on flavored vaping products

SAN DIEGO --  Two San Diego County supervisors called Monday for a ban on the sale of flavored tobacco vaping products and e-cigarette devices.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher and Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Dianne Jacob announced their proposal to ban the products in light of recent reports of vaping-related illnesses and deaths. Dr. Wilma Wooten, head of the San Diego County Health Department stood by the supervisors in support of the proposal.

"We don't know yet exactly what is causing people to be sick, but we know that they are becoming sick," Fletcher said. "We know that they are dying. We know that this is impacting teenagers and the youth, and it is time to put the brakes on it until we have properly assessed the dangers and hope to try and avert a public health crisis."

The proposed ban was opposed by some local vape shop owners who think the move is premature.

"I smoked for over 25 years and I found a product that has saved me, as far as my health goes," said James Mitchell who has owned a vape shop in San Diego for over five years. "I feel a heck of a lot better now that I'm vaping instead of smoking, and once I did that, I wanted to be able to share that with the public."

Fletcher took aim at the tobacco industry during Monday's news conference, especially marketing he says is aimed at children.

"Big tobacco has a history of targeting children and have tried to get them hooked on smoking," Fletcher stated.

However, people in the industry, like Mitchell, disagree.

"It has nothing to do with trying to make a profit off of kids or anybody else with a nicotine addiction," Mitchell argued. "This has to do with helping people."

The ban would affect unincorporated areas of the county and would remain in effect until vaping devices can be certified as safe. The proposal is expected to go before thefull  board on October 15.

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