City of Sebastian, Florida Passes Ordinance to Restrict Youth Access and Exposure to Electronic Cigarettes
November 13, 2013

On November 13, 2013 the City Council of Sebastian, Florida voted 4-1 to pass an ordinance regulating the sale, marketing, and use of electronic cigarettes throughout the city.

The recently passed ordinance prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes to minors under the age of 18, places the products behind the counter requiring retailer-assisted sales, and restricts the use of e-cigarettes in public places where smoking is already banned. The rules on public use, designed to regulate e-cigarettes by following the rules of the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act, goes further than an ordinance by the Indian River County Commission on October 22, 2013.

Sebastian City Council
The Sebastian City Council (L to R):
Mayor Bob McPartlan, Andrea B. Coy, Jerome Adams, Vice-Mayor Jim Hill, Richard H. Gillmor

The lone dissenting vote was cast by newly-elected Councilman Richard Gillmor. "I'm just kind of troubled by some of the language in this ordinance," said Councilman Gillmor. "I would not like to se us keep people from using our parks with the electronic-type delivery. And I think that this ordinance... would do that."

"This is the early stages of regulating these products," replied City Attorney Robert Ginsburg. "I've had no difficulty placing this before you. I think that you, in the absence of legislative action dealing with e-cigarettes which has not occurred yet, in the absence of a court opinion, I think you have the right to look at these."

"In order to bypass the FDA, [e-cigarette manufacturers] said 'we're a tobacco product' so they could be for sale," added Mayor Bob McPartlan, "but then they didn't want to follow the rules of tobacco products, whereas these items can be sold right down there with the gum and the mints, as opposed to cigarettes which are behind the counter."

Mayor McPartlan also discussed the clause designed to regulate their use in public places where traditional tobacco products are currently banned. "Also what we're trying to do is, so they can't smoke these devices in the parks, because it gives a mixed message to children. They have made tremendous in-roads with smoking and teenagers, and the e-cigarette devices... makes it cool again, and makes it sexy. And then they get involved with the e-cigarettes which they have access to."

Councilwoman Andrea Coy also commented. "I'm a smoker. I look at this, and I don't think children have any business having access to that type of product. And I don;t think they should be seeing it in places where cigarettes aren't welcome. As a smoker, I don;t want to go down into the park, and see somebody across from me puffing on what I may not even know is a cigarette or an e-cigarette. I think this is fair across the board."

The action taken by the City of Sebastian to regulate electronic cigarettes illustrates the growing public health concern around these products. This action demonstrates local governments taking measures to protect its youth from nicotine addiction and to de-normalize the act of smoking, whether by traditional or electronic means.

Recently, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that electronic cigarette use among has doubled nationally in the last year, making health officials concerned. The CDC stated that 4.7% of high school students had used an electronic cigarette in 2011 and that number rose to 10% in 2012.

This has also led to an increase in use of these drug delivery devices by teenagers on school campuses, as discussed in this article in the Washington Post, published on November 14, 2013.

More information on electronic cigarettes is available in this article, published in the Wall Street Journal on November 10, 2013.

You can watch the entire discussion on the Sebastian City Council regarding the electronic cigarette ordinance here:

Sebastian FL City Council passes E-Cigarette Ordinance, November 13, 2013