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Palo Alto to ban sales of vaping products

Original post made on Dec 10, 2019

Palo Alto’s campaign against vaping heated up Monday night, when the City Council agreed to ban the sales and distribution of electronic cigarettes at local stores.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, December 10, 2019, 12:30 AM

Comments (34)

14 people like this
Posted by Crackhead Oil Co. Board Member
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 10, 2019 at 7:01 am

Seems like an odd decision. I’d read in numerous places that vaping has caused the number of people who engage in the significantly more dangerous activity of smoking to decrease.


27 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 10, 2019 at 7:18 am

So Palo Alto parents and school are bad at educating their kids about the dangers of smoking, so you ban it for the whole population and enhance enforcement.

The tragic part of all this is that the whole dangerous "epidemic" is due to illegally sold/obtained vape cartridges, something someone bought and used because they didn't have easy access to the safer products in the market.

Restriction doesn't work, education works. Talk to your kids more.


14 people like this
Posted by Scott
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 10, 2019 at 7:49 am

This is a policy based on fear and not actual information. Vaping illegal oils (mostly cannabis) has been shown by the CDC to be the reason for the deaths, not vaping itself.

A more nuanced approach would be to limit the nicotine content and restrict sales to over 18 year olds.


14 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 10, 2019 at 7:56 am

I appreciate the concerns behind the vaping issue brought to council through a colleagues memo submitted, the article said ,“earlier this month”.

But the timing is strange. A memo submitted in October by different CC members to address an emergency loophole in a state law to protect renters was delayed time and again.

A few weeks ago when the memo finally came to council a decision was not made, the city attorneys office had made an error.

Then a week ago Monday the emergency ordinance failed again because the attorneyd office cited city law that states four -fifths vote needed (not a simple majority) had not been met because the recused Cc member, though not present or participating, counted as present!?

Again happy the concerns about caping was addressed in a timely fashion by cc.
But I believe everyone knows recusals mean you leave the room and you do not participate in any way so
Four-fifths of six present was needed to pass and that’s what the vote was ......?????


15 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 10, 2019 at 8:24 am

This will do nothing to stop online shopping or to prevent those online shoppers (or elsewhere shoppers) from selling these to others. Many teens say they are buying these things from other teens in school bathrooms!

Usual Palo Alto feel good measure that will do nothing to stop the problem.


15 people like this
Posted by Thad
a resident of another community
on Dec 10, 2019 at 8:58 am

Are regular cigarette sales banned in Palo Alto?


12 people like this
Posted by JR
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 10, 2019 at 9:24 am

Vaping is a public health emergency that is going to cause severe problems 20-30 years down the road. We’re already starting to see the side effects in emergency rooms. Good for PA for getting ahead of the curve. It’s not clear that vaping is safer than smoking, it may turn out to be worse.


18 people like this
Posted by Cloudy
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 10, 2019 at 12:54 pm

Typical Palo Alto.

Palo Alto's neo-puritans always have to be the first to jump on board the latest moral panic with some sort of toothless virtue signaling. In all likelihood this new moral panic is just part of an elaborate tobacco industry PR offensive in their titanic battle with the vaping industry over a multi-billion dollar market.

Neo-puritans are easily manipulated because the PR industry understands the neo-puritan will never pass up an opportunity to virtue signal.


20 people like this
Posted by Paul fisher
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 10, 2019 at 2:00 pm

Like prohibition works. Moronic decision made to be part of the political pack. No real impact. Board would have done more for the children by restricting the sale of sugar. For a city with a large population of said educated citizens, it makes you wonder.


16 people like this
Posted by cmarg
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 10, 2019 at 3:02 pm

cmarg is a registered user.

Thank you City Council. It is about time.


5 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 10, 2019 at 3:17 pm

Would be far better if the council grew a backbone and passed a law prohibiting anyone under 21 from possessing, or using, vaping products. This law is nothing more than "virtue signaling".


4 people like this
Posted by Fry
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 10, 2019 at 5:21 pm

Let's do the math. 31% have tried vaping. 13% use e-cigarettes. Of that 13% less than half buy their own product. So we are placing a ban for the 6% of students that purchase their own e-cigarettes. Let's use facts when making decisions for the residents and not knee jerk fear reactions.


26 people like this
Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 10, 2019 at 5:22 pm

Our city leaders and elected officials should consider history when making these decisions. Bottom line is that prohibition of a personal vice has never been effective and never will be. From a governmental standpoint nothing more than symbolism. It can't be enforced anyway so what's the point. If they want to make a public health statement then contribute to educating and informing kids of the consequences. Let parents and the users handle the rest and stay out of people's business already.


12 people like this
Posted by Residents
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 10, 2019 at 5:55 pm

This not a "ban for everyone" (stop the panic) but a ban to prevent the sale of e-cigarettes to youth under the age of 21. Read the ordinance the city is talking about. It's been passed in all the surrounding cities. Palo Alto is one of the few that haven't passed it. It's already passed by Santa Clara County.


5 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 10, 2019 at 5:59 pm

Scott, you said "A more nuanced approach would be to limit the nicotine content and restrict sales to over 18 year olds.:"

How are we supposed to do this? There are no rules requiring vape products to publish the amounts of chemicals in them. There are no labels of ingredients. Exactly how is the city going to limit nicotine content when they are not stated on the products?


9 people like this
Posted by Van ban
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 10, 2019 at 6:12 pm

Residents--maybe you should read the story again. It clearly states:
"y a unanimous vote, the council directed staff to prepare an ordinance that would impose the prohibition on sales of vaping products. In doing so, it joined a growing list of cities and*

That sums like a total ban on the she of vaping products. Typical virtue signaling from our council. Will they Akzo ban cigarettes and alcohol? What about high cholesterol foods?


9 people like this
Posted by Vaping saves lives
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Dec 10, 2019 at 6:37 pm

It's pretty clear that e-cigarettes can offer smokers a far better alternative to cigarettes. Let's ban them and leave cigarettes on the market!
BTW, Kids smoke cigarettes.
The overwhelming majority of lung issues with vaping has been tied by the CDC to black market THC vape cartridges cut with materials that are injurious to one's lungs. Nothing to do with e-cigs and no cases tied to name brand authentic e-cigs.
Kids drink alcohol in middle school and high school.
Banning vaping is like banning alcohol consumption by not allowing people to drink. anything.
Misguided nanny state sensationalism.


4 people like this
Posted by Residents
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 10, 2019 at 6:38 pm

to Van ban
It does say " unanimous vote, the council directed staff to prepare an ordinance that would impose the prohibition on sales of vaping products. In doing so, it joined a growing list of cities "

But this is the article not the ordinance. The ordinance is about banning sales to youth aged 21 and younger, not ADULTS. The article quote is misleading you to think that this is a COMPLETE prohibition on e-cigarettes. It's not. It's about preventing it from sale for youth under the age of 21. Go read the ordinance.

stop the panic. An adult can buy e-cigarettes.


9 people like this
Posted by Van ban
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 10, 2019 at 7:07 pm

Residents--how can we read an ordinance that the council instructed staff to prepare? There is no ordinance to read. The council and this article talked about a total ban for everyone


4 people like this
Posted by Residents
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 10, 2019 at 9:31 pm

They asked the city lawyers to draft the ordinance, but the motion was to be similar to what Santa Clara County ordinance passed. Go read the Santa Clara ordinance that has been passed.


14 people like this
Posted by Residents
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 10, 2019 at 9:38 pm

re: Vaping saves lives
bhaahahahahaha!!!!

Sounds like big tobacca. Are ya?
Big tobacco used to say cigarette smoking was healthy for you and good for your health.
Suuuuure. Vaping and inhaling heavy metals like lead and tin is good for ya.
Inhaling nicotine as a teenager is good for yer brain. Absolutely. That's what all developing brains need!


9 people like this
Posted by Van ban
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 10, 2019 at 9:50 pm

Residents--you may want to read the following stories. Note that the ordinance calls for a total ban. Total means no one can buy it. Anymore questions?

Web Link

Santa Clara County is the latest county in California to completely ban the sale of e-cigarettes.

During its Nov. 5 meeting, the County Board of Supervisors approved a ban on the sale or distribution of e-cigarette devices and associated products. It also voted to clarify the current ban on flavored tobacco products to include menthol and eliminated the exemption for retailers that serve adults over 21 to sell flavored tobacco products.


Web Link


7 people like this
Posted by Residents
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 10, 2019 at 10:50 pm

to :VAN BAN

STOP the PANIC. It's a ban to prevent sale and distribution to kids who are under age 21

Web Link

Board Approves Ban on Sale of E-Cigarettes to Stop Vaping Among Youth
Ordinance Would Make It Harder for Users Under Age 21 to Buy Products

Web Link

the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved
banning the sale of e-cigarettes to residents under age 21 in unincorporated areas of
Santa Clara County.

Hoping to reduce youth use of e-cigarettes, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a ban of the sale and distribution of all vaping products for anyone under 21 years old in the unincorporated areas of the county.


5 people like this
Posted by Residents
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 10, 2019 at 10:50 pm

to : VAN BAN

STOP the PANIC. It's a ban to prevent sale and distribution to kids who are under age 21

Web Link

Board Approves Ban on Sale of E-Cigarettes to Stop Vaping Among Youth
Ordinance Would Make It Harder for Users Under Age 21 to Buy Products

Web Link

the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved
banning the sale of e-cigarettes to residents under age 21 in unincorporated areas of
Santa Clara County.

Hoping to reduce youth use of e-cigarettes, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a ban of the sale and distribution of all vaping products for anyone under 21 years old in the unincorporated areas of the county.


8 people like this
Posted by Residents
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 10, 2019 at 10:57 pm

to: VAN BAN

Seriously dude. GO read the real ordinances at Santa Clara - NOT some online news article.

Here ya go:
Web Link

Sec. A18-368. - Definitions.
For the purposes of this chapter, the following definitions shall apply:

(a)Arm's length transaction means a sale in good faith and for valuable consideration that reflects the fair market value in the open market between two or more informed and willing parties, neither of which is under any compulsion to participate in the transaction. A sale between relatives, related companies or partners, or a sale for which a significant purpose is avoiding the effect of the violations of this chapter is not an arm's length transaction.(b)Department means the County's Department of Environmental Health and any agency or person designated by the director of the Department of Environmental Health to enforce or administer the provisions of this chapter.(c)Ownership means possession of a ten-percent or greater interest in the stock, assets, or income of a business, other than a security interest for the repayment of debt.(d)School means a public or private elementary, middle, junior high or high school.(e)Tobacco product means (unless specifically noted elsewhere):(1)Any product subject to Subchapter IX (21 U.S.C. § 387 et seq. ("Subchapter IX")) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. (See 21 U.S.C. § 387a(b) (products subject to Subchapter IX); 21 C.F.R. §§ 1100.1-1100.3 (tobacco products subject to Subchapter IX).) Products subject to Subchapter IX include, but are not limited to, cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco, smokeless tobacco, cigars, pipe tobacco, waterpipe tobacco, and electronic nicotine delivery systems (such as, but not limited to, electronic cigarettes, electronic cigars, electronic hookahs, vape pens, personal vaporizers, and electronic pipes). Products subject to Subchapter IX also include components or parts of tobacco products, such as, but not limited to, liquids that are for use in an electronic nicotine delivery system and that contain tobacco or nicotine or are derived from tobacco or nicotine ("e-liquids"), vials that contain e-liquids, and atomizers. Products that are not subject to Subchapter IX include accessories of tobacco products, such as, but not limited to, ashtrays, spittoons, and conventional matches and lighters that solely provide an external heat source to initiate but not maintain combustion of a tobacco product.(2)Any product for use in an electronic nicotine delivery system, whether or not it contains tobacco or nicotine or is derived from tobacco or nicotine.
(f)Retailer means any person who sells, exchanges, or offers to sell or exchange tobacco products for any form of consideration. "Retailing" shall mean the doing of any of these things. This definition is without regard to the quantity of tobacco products sold, exchanged, or offered for sale or exchange.
( Ord. No. NS-300.903, § 1, 10-18-16 )

Sec. A18-369. - Requirements and prohibitions.
(a)Permit required. It shall be unlawful for any person to act as a retailer of tobacco products in an unincorporated area of the County without first obtaining and maintaining a valid retailer permit pursuant to this chapter for each location at which that activity is to occur.(b)Lawful business operation. It shall be a violation of this chapter for any retailer to violate any local, state, or federal law applicable to tobacco products or the retailing of such products.(c)Display of permit. Each retailer permit shall be prominently displayed in a publicly visible place at the permitted location.(d)Notice of minimum age for purchase of tobacco products. Retailers shall post conspicuously, at each point of purchase, a notice stating that selling tobacco products to anyone under 21 years of age is illegal and subject to penalties. Such notice shall be subject to the approval of the Public Health Department.
(e)Positive identification required. No retailer shall sell or transfer a tobacco product to another person who appears to be under 30 years of age without first examining the customer's identification to confirm that the customer is at least the minimum age required under state law to purchase and possess the tobacco product.(f)Minimum age for persons selling tobacco products. No person who is younger than the minimum age established by state law for the purchase or possession of tobacco products shall engage in retailing.(g)False and misleading advertising prohibited. A retailer either without a valid retailer permit or with a suspended retailer permit:(1)Shall keep all tobacco products out of public view.(2)Shall not display any advertisement relating to tobacco products that promotes the sale or distribution of such products from the retailer's location or that could lead a reasonable consumer to believe that tobacco products can be obtained at that location.
(h)Limitation on storefront advertising. No more than 15 percent of the square footage of the windows and clear doors of an establishment used for retailing shall bear advertising or signs of any sort, and all advertising and signage shall be placed and maintained in a manner that ensures that law enforcement personnel have a clear and unobstructed view of the interior of the premises, including the area in which the cash registers are maintained, from the exterior public sidewalk or entrance to the premises. However, this latter requirement shall not apply to an establishment where there are no windows, or where existing windows are located at a height that precludes a view of the interior of the premises by a person standing outside the premises.


17 people like this
Posted by Paly Student
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 11, 2019 at 9:37 am

Banning the sales of vape products will simply cause more gas to be burned and more parents' money to be taken as students drive to other parts of the Bay Area to buy vapes. Reducing vaping takes education, not prohibition.


8 people like this
Posted by ALB
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 11, 2019 at 3:09 pm

ALB is a registered user.

I salute the Palo Alto city council for taking action regarding the sale of vaping technology to young people as the evidence shows how detrimental the practice of using these products is to health. Some of the comments stress that vaping products should be permitted in Palo Alto and parents should teach their teenagers and youth about the dangers of using these products. Many young people will do the opposite of what their parents tell them to do. I do agree that all students should see a diseased lung juxtaposed with a healthy lung projected in a mandatory class beginning in sixth grade. I know people who in college after seeing such slides quit smoking immediately after having learned of the effects of smoking in their biology class. The visual evidence triggers integrated thinking on an emotional level. I have said before that the prefrontal cortex is not developed until age twenty five. The city council has done the right thing. I do feel strongly that school policy needs to be enforced to show young people that there will be consequences should the offenders be caught using these dangerous products on campus. If there are no consequences then they will continue to use. Again, kudos to the Palo Alto city council.


15 people like this
Posted by Gennady Sheyner
Palo Alto Weekly staff writer
on Dec 11, 2019 at 3:12 pm

Gennady Sheyner is a registered user.

@Residents:

The proposed ban would prohibit vaping products to be sold to anyone, not just people under 21. The Santa Clara County ordinance, which the Board of Supervisors passed on Nov. 5 states:

"No Retailer that is issued a new Permit after December 19, 2019 shall Sell or Distribute Electronic Cigarette Products after Permit issuance. No Retailer that receives a Permit renewal after December 19, 2019 shall Sell or Distribute Electronic Cigarette Products after Permit renewal. Regardless of the date of Permit issuance or renewal, no Retailer shall Sell or Distribute Electronic Cigarette Products after June 30, 2020."

Your first link pertains to the board's Sept. 24 meeting, not the action that it took on Nov. 5. The ban in Palo Alto, much like in Santa Clara County, would ban the sales and distribution of vaping products -- not just banning sales to those under 21.


17 people like this
Posted by Van ban
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 11, 2019 at 3:49 pm

Residents--I rest my case.

Gennady--thank you fur clarifying what was obvious to me


15 people like this
Posted by Cloudy
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 11, 2019 at 7:02 pm

Palo Alto's neo-puritans, who are easily stampeded into virtue-signaling in response any moral panic, do not realize they have let themselves become useful-idiots in the Tobacco Industry's war with the vape industry. The Tobacco Industry wants to control or destroy the vape industry in order to drive smokers back to tobacco products and away from non-tobacco vape products.

The tobacco industry has a history of using sophisticated PR campaigns to drive consumers to its products.

In the late 1920s the American Tobacco Company hired Edward Bernays, who today is known as the father of public relations, to help them recruit women smokers.

"The first strategy was to persuade women to smoke cigarettes instead of eating. Bernays began by promoting the ideal of thinness itself, using photographers, artists, newspapers, and magazines to promote the special beauty of thin women. Medical authorities were found to promote the choice of cigarettes over sweets. Home-makers were cautioned that keeping cigarettes on hand was a social necessity"

In a follow up campaign "Bernays consulted with psychoanalyst Abraham Brill, a student of Freud's, who reported to him that cigarettes represented "torches of freedom" for women whose feminine desires were increasingly suppressed by their role in the modern world. Bernays organized a contingent of women to smoke cigarettes "torches of freedom" at the 1929 Easter Sunday parade in New York. The event was carefully scripted to promote the intended message"

Web Link


4 people like this
Posted by Harold Hill
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 13, 2019 at 1:51 am

Friend, either you're closing your eyes to a situation you do not wish to acknowledge, or you are not aware of the caliber of disaster indicated by the presence of a pool table in your community.

Well...ya got trouble my friends--because good optics does not sound policy make. I'm sure we are all concerned about the rise of vaping, particularly amongst young people in our schools. I do not think that other posters exaggerate when they call this a public health crisis, and I am sure they are sincere when they advocate action. Yet the City Council's actions do not address their concerns effectively; indeed they should be among those most outraged. The science is in--outright bans of nicotine products don't work. Here's what does:

- Plain packaging ordinances,
- A ban on marketing and promotion of nicotine,
- Consumer protections that require truth in advertising from nicotine providers,
- Investment in public health education for our public schools, and
- An aggressive system of taxation on nicotine products, to support the mitigation of health impact on the community.

The council has resolved not to implement any measures which would actually curb rates of nicotine use. In doing so, they hurt their constituents, and small businesses, while encouraging both a cottage resale industry, and the proliferation of smoke shops in Los Altos, Mountain View, and Menlo Park.

The proposed ban has nothing to do with rising rates of nicotine use; it has nothing to do with protection of Palo Altans. It doesn't keep our young people safe, indeed it throws them to the jaws of the tobacco industry. It is action without substance, serving only to abandon all control of the issue, and the council knows this. They pander to moral panic with their Reaganesque admonitions, and ignore completely the hard lessons learned from our failure in the war on drugs.

We deserve real action from our representatives--action that will effectively support our community in battling tobacco addiction. So too, we lead by example; our economic prominence gives us outside influence to effect change in other communities. This is populist retail politics at its worst, and it is a shame that any council member would put their name to it.


2 people like this
Posted by Alvin
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 15, 2019 at 9:29 am

Alvin is a registered user.

Will the city council be surprised when cigarette use among Palo Alto teens starts rising again after the ban on vaping (which contains no tobacco, smoke, tar, or carbon monoxide) takes affect? Or when teens purchase the relatively more dangerous black-market vaping products by shady actors?


Like this comment
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 15, 2019 at 10:14 am

Posted by Cloudy, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

>> Palo Alto's neo-puritans, who are easily stampeded into virtue-signaling in response any moral panic

You are undercutting the rational part of your message by embedding it in this kind of Fox News coating. If you leave that junk out, there is a useful historical review there.

BTW, Netflix has an interesting "Broken" series (not the Sean Bean series of the same name) with a new segment on Juul:

Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by HUTCH 7.62
a resident of Portola Valley
on Dec 15, 2019 at 10:29 am

Hows that 15 ft smoking in front of a business ban Palo Alto working?


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