PITTSBURG -- Citing the potential harm from second-hand exposure to smoking and its influence on kids, city leaders agreed this week to add e-cigarettes to its public smoking ban.
The City Council's unanimous decision Monday night means that electronic cigarette use will not be allowed outside city-owned properties, including parks and recreation areas, parking lots and plazas, along with other places where smoking tobacco cigarettes is restricted.
The use of electronic cigarettes could promote social acceptability of smoking, especially to youths, said Laura Wright, a city administrative officer. Further, companies will use candy flavors to entice kids to try them, she said.
There are also many uncertainties about the chemicals contained in e-cigarettes and the long-term health implications, Wright said.
Last week, Oakley became the first East Contra Costa city to impose a wide-ranging ban on the devices. The prohibition, which will kick in next month and was included in that city's crackdown on outdoor tobacco use, includes city-owned properties, as well as restaurants' outdoor dining areas and the exteriors of other businesses such as shopping centers, car dealerships, movie theaters and bus shelters.
But unlike in Oakley, no one spoke in favor of e-cigarettes at Pittsburg's meeting.
Pittsburg initially held a hearing on the item last month but did not take action so that staff could revise some of the language.
Before Monday's vote, Councilwoman Nancy Parent said the issue was brought forward because residents told the council there were incidents of elementary school children with e-cigarettes.
"That started the ball rolling," Parent said. "We do not need to have young people, once again, thinking it's cool, or whatever word or little symbol they use now, that smoking or imitation smoking is a good thing to do."
Councilman Ben Johnson added: "When it comes to cigarettes, they do have a negative impact I'm sure on a lot more (people) than just me."
Three non-Pittsburg residents who work for the county's tobacco-prevention coalition spoke in support of the e-cigarette restrictions.
"They're not merely harmless water vapors as they are advertised. They need to be regulated on par with traditional cigarettes," coalition member Mary Jaccodine said.
Advocates also urged Pittsburg to consider tougher laws on licensing retailers to prevent illegal sales to youths and second-hand smoke policies for areas such as outdoor dining and multi-unit housing complexes.
Meanwhile, the city did not receive any correspondence from residents saying the rules should not be adopted, but there were a slew of letters in support, Parent said.
Once it takes effect 30 days after formal adoption, the ordinance will make Pittsburg the fifth city in the county to regulate the use of e-cigarettes; in addition to Oakley, Concord, Richmond and Walnut Creek already have adopted similar rules, as has the county for unincorporated areas.
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.