E-cigarettes, flavored tobacco and vaping have been associated with lung illness and deaths in recent state and national public health reports. On Oct. 28, the city of Carpinteria voted to implement a ban on the sale and in-public use of all vaping products.

Carpinteria City Council voted unanimously on Oct. 28 to implement a moratorium banning the sale of electronic vaping devices and products, as well as their use in public places, citing health and safety impacts. The moratorium will take effect after a final vote by Council as early as their next meeting on Nov. 11. The moratorium will remain in place until a permanent modification to existing legislation is prepared and approved.  

The ordinance banning vaping in public spaces comes on the heels of California Governor Gavin Newsom’s executive order to confront the youth vaping epidemic as well as the state’s public health advisory on vaping related lung illness. In California, at least 42 counties have already restricted or banned the sale of e-cigarettes and recently, Los Angeles County called on the governor to issue a statewide ban.

In 2011, Carpinteria passed an ordinance expanding smoking prohibitions to outdoor areas open to the general public. Two years later, the council amended city regulations requiring retailers to obtain a license to sell cigarettes, tobacco products and smoking paraphernalia. Currently, 14 shop owners hold licenses to sell tobacco products in Carpinteria.

The city’s prohibition against smoking will now be expanded to include vaping. While not all vaping liquids have nicotine, city compliance officers are not equipped to tell the difference. Furthermore, nationwide, cases of vaping related illnesses and deaths have been linked to THC as well as nicotine and other flavored liquid products.

Several teenagers implored the council to ban vaping, an industry that has been widely criticized for targeting youth. “We are here to show our support to a flavored tobacco and vaping ban,” said Melissa Villafuerte, a youth organizer for Carpinteria’s Future Leaders of America (FLA). “We urge you to take action to protect the health of our nation’s youngest people.”

“Selling vaping products is simply unpleasant,” said FLA’s president, Juliana, “Many don’t know that this is a fatal problem. Kids and teens are victims to this misfortune. The public should be warned.” Another FLA student, Mario, said that vaping at his school has gotten so bad that there are now sensors in the bathrooms to detect it.

Student comments were supported by statistical observations later presented by candidate for County Supervisor and Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD) Trustee Laura Capps, who attended the meeting to support the ban. “I know that Carpinteria has been on the forefront of banning smoking,” said Capps. “In SBUSD, of 2,500 students, 400 admit to vaping in the last month… We know the impacts on kids. Nicotine and THC greatly impact brain development. We’re seeing a rise in addiction.”

The council was swift in reaching an agreement that the sale and use of vaping products should be restricted and banned in the city of Carpinteria. “This is a very serious problem that we need to put on the forefront,” said Councilman Al Clark.

The moratorium and future ordinance will ban all vaping in public places and prohibit local vendors from selling electronic vaping products and devices. Additionally, the city will draft a letter to the governor asking for further investigation and restrictions on the state level.

Councilmembers oppose fracking

City Council voted unanimously to adopt a resolution opposing the leasing of federal public lands in Santa Barbara County for oil and gas development as a part of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Resource Management Plan for the Bakersfield Region.

Councilmembers received over 80 letters from the community on this issue—all in support of the resolution to oppose opening public lands for oil drilling and hydraulic fracturing in Santa Barbara County—including a parcel in Carpinteria, located within a half mile of the Cate School and parcels adjacent to Lake Cachuma, one of the sources of Carpinteria’s water supply. In addition to Santa Barbara County, the proposed area includes the counties of Ventura, San Luis Obispo, Madera, Kern, Kings, Fresno and Tulare.

The BLM, a part of the U.S. Department of Interior, oversees the leasing of federal lands and mineral estates in California for oil and gas production. In Santa Barbara County approximately 122,000 acres of land c,ontrolled by the federal government are being considered for oil and gas leasing, according to the city of Carpinteria’s staff report. Project-level leasing, access rights, additional environmental review and permitting would be required before any new oil and gas development. A BLM program manager told city staff that it was unlikely that an oil and gas development would move forward in Carpinteria, according to the staff report.

The city’s resolution states that new oil and gas development, including hydraulic fracturing, “poses a risk for the quality of Carpinteria’s water, air, open spaces and public health.” Moreover, the resolution states that new oil and gas development “will further exacerbate local greenhouse gas emissions, which is contrary to local and regional efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote alternative clean energy sources.”

In his summary remarks, Councilmember Fred Shaw asked, “Why would anybody want to drill for oil next to our water supply?”  

City earns sustainable energy award

The city of Carpinteria has received the platinum award for sustainable energy from the state of California. The city’s 36 percent in energy savings last year was the second best in the state. “We were the best of the best,” said Mayor Wade Nomura.

Concha Loma residents voice concern

Several residents of Concha Loma spoke out against two-story buildings in their neighborhood and petitioned the city for an agreement on zoning and development that included a discussion with residents on how best to keep new design and development in line with the neighborhood’s established character. A request was also made to pave Concha Loma streets, as the asphalt base is eroding in some places and can be unsafe for people moving by wheel, whether skateboard, bicycle, wheelchair or walker.

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