The Sumner City Council discussed a ban of tobacco products, electronic cigarettes, and other vapor products from city parks on July 28.
The ordinance did not receive a motion to consider, with the majority of City Council members stating the ordinance over-regulated people’s freedom of choice. The ordinance was unanimously recommended to be brought to the council by the city’s Parks and Forestry Commission.
The ordinance would have amended Section 12.60.040 of the Sumner municipal code, adding a 20th rule that banned smoking tobacco and e-cigarettes from the park area, restrooms, spectator and concession areas.
E-cigarettes were included in this draft ordinance because of the liquid nicotine that is vaporized and let out into the air, much like secondhand smoke. There is also the possibility of substituting the nicotine for THC oil, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, in e-cigarettes, which would be in violation of RCW 69.51A.060, which prohibits smoking medical marijuana in public.
The FDA does not currently regulate e-cigarettes or the liquid nicotine, and there is little information on how much of a health risk secondhand vapor poses. While the CDC does classify nicotine as a toxin, it is not yet known if it is a carcinogen.
According to the Washington Department of Health, e-cigarettes emit water vapor, vaporized nicotine, chemical flavorings, glycol ethers and glycerin, all of which are not classified as carcinogens.
However, a New York Times article reported that more powerful e-cigarettes, called tank systems, can also release formaldehyde, a carcinogen found in traditional cigarettes.
The American Lung Association estimates that there are around 69 carcinogens found in traditional cigarettes.
A study done by Medline Plus and cited by the state health department found only 47 percent of chemicals emitted while using an e-cigarette end up in the lungs. The rest of the vapor is released into the air after exhaling.
Unlike traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes only emit secondhand vapor when a user exhales after using the device. Traditional cigarettes will continually emit secondhand smoke as long as they are lit.
While information on nicotine vapor is limited, the health risks of liquid nicotine are well documented. In 2013, the health department reported 81 calls were made to the Washington Poison Center for contact with liquid nicotine. This is because liquid nicotine is more toxic in liquid form than in vapor or cigarettes. Health department studies show only a third of an ounce of liquid nicotine, either ingested or absorbed through the skin, can be extremely dangerous or lethal to a child. Because the FDA does not yet regulate liquid nicotine, companies are not required to put childproof caps on their liquid nicotine containers.