El Cajon takes no action on vaping ban; stiffens penalties for businesses that sell to minors

Posted at 8:00 PM, Oct 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-08 23:31:24-04

EL CAJON, Calif. (KGTV) -- El Cajon city leaders will consider the possibility of a ban on the sale of vaping products at their next meeting in November.

Tuesday evening, city council leaders heard from dozens of people for and against the idea; but the issue was not on the agenda.

Councilman Gary Kendrick first brought up a city-wide ban in July. Tuesday afternoon, he was joined by school leaders, doctors, health officials, and parents who all believe vaping is an epidemic targeting kids.

"These people who are selling vaping devices and vaping liquids to our children are profiting from the suffering of our children," said councilman Kendrick.

A member of the Cajon Valley Union School Board said vaping is rampant in children as young as elementary age.

"The liquids that are being used our being promoted to our youth , having vaping devices available at a very low cost in our liquor stores or 7/11/'s for approximately a dollar is promoting to our children that they can easily have access to them," said Jill Barto.

Joey Johnson works at United Smoke Shop and Vape. He says if it weren't for vaping, he'd still be smoking two packs a day.

"It's astonishing how much it’s truly helped me," said Johnson.

Johnson believes a ban punishes legitimate businesses and will only create a bigger black market.

"Gas stations places like that don’t care, so it’s either that or people on the streets or getting THC cartridges from people on the street who don’t know what they’re doing , they’re adding stuff to it to make it “vapable” or able to smoke and that’s the people that are dying," said Johnson.

At least twenty-three people across the country have died from vaping related illnesses. In San Diego County, there have been no deaths, but at least twenty-two people have been sickened.

One high school student told the council that vaping is rampant in the school bathrooms.

"The athletic kids vape, the honors kids vape, the college prep kids vape and their parents vape and at this point, it's sad to say, I think it's become a part of high school culture," said the student.

Deborah Kelly told city leaders she was outraged at the failure of government to protect children.

"Flavored tobacco products taste like candy, but act as poisons and kids don't smoke marijuana, they vape it," said Kelly.

The council decided more research is needed before it takes any action on a possible ban.

City leaders did vote to increase suspensions and fines for businesses that sell tobacco products to minors.

Under the new rules, fines start at $2,500 instead of $1,000. If a business has a fourth violation within a five-year period, the retailer is subject to a permanent suspension.