New regulations on vaping in public take effect countywide on July 1, 2016

For more information, contact Kim Papich, SRHD Public Information Officer (509) 324-1539 or kpapich@srhd.org

SPOKANE, Wash. – April 29, 2016 – In a unanimous vote yesterday, Spokane Regional Health District’s (SRHD) Board of Health (BOH) became the sixth county in the state to pass regulations restricting vaping in public places. 

RESOURCE:  Newly-Adopted Resolution #16-01 – Vaping Under SIPP (PDF) 

Similar to the state’s no smoking in public laws passed in 2005, individuals in Spokane County will be prohibited from vaping in public places and places of employment starting July 1, 2016. This includes indoor spaces and places of employment like restaurants and movies theaters and outdoor areas within 25 feet of doors, windows and ventilation intakes. 

Vaping will also be prohibited on patios and other outdoor seating and dining areas that employees are required to service or clean. Businesses will also be required to update their existing signage to include language that prohibits vaping. 

“E-cigarettes and vaping products release a cloud of chemicals that may be harmful, especially to our most vulnerable,” said Dr. Joel McCullough, SRHD interim health officer. “With this measure, our board of health is showing how seriously they take the protection of public health, particularly for youth, pregnant women and those with chronic illnesses.” 

Board members cited concerns that vapor can contain nicotine, heavy metals, ultrafine particulates, toxic chemicals and cancer causing agents, which makes secondhand exposure a concern. A complicating factor—vaping devices can be used with any number of substances, including marijuana and synthetic drugs. As a result, bystanders are exposed to unknown harmful agents. 

The resolution will also help address concerns over rising youth initiation in Spokane County. Vaping liquid often contains nicotine, which can impair developing brains. In 2014, 26 percent of high school sophomores in the county reported using a vaping device in the past 30 days. This is over twice the rate of sophomores who reported smoking a cigarette in the past 30 days in the same year. Youth are also particularly vulnerable to nicotine addiction and emerging research indicates vaping may ultimate lead them to smoke cigarettes. 

Concluded Dr. McCullough, “In public health, we are worried that vaping devices will re-glamorize smoking, undermining the changing social norms that have led to sharp declines in tobacco use in recent years.” One exemption to the resolution—the result of recently passed state legislation—allows for tasting and sampling of vaping devices and products in licensed retail outlets. Senate bill 1628, which puts vaping products under a regulatory structure similar to tobacco products, was signed by Governor Jay Inslee on April 19, 2016. 

Akin to tobacco regulations, vaping products in Washington state are now subject to:

  • A license requirement to sell
  • Vendor-assisted sales requirements
  • Mandatory signage at retail outlets concerning prohibited sales to minors
  • Age identification requirements
  • Fines for sales to minors and penalties on minors for purchasing or possessing vapor products

In addition, the state legislation places requirements on mail and internet sales, requires child-resistant packaging, warning labels and disclosure of nicotine content. 

The new state law also includes specific prohibitions on use of vaping devices at child care facilities (indoors and outdoors), schools (indoors and outdoors), within 500 feet of schools, on school buses, in elevators and at playgrounds between sunrise and sunset when children under the age of 12 are present. 

SRHD Tobacco, Vaping Device and Marijuana Prevention program staff will provide targeted community education specific to the new regulations, including business signage and technical assistance, with an emphasis on businesses with liquor licenses, food establishments, schools and child care facilities. After July 1, 2016 enforcement will be done by SRHD staff by responding to complaints and conducting random inspections. To anonymously report a violation people can visit srhd.org/services/tobaccolaw.asp or call (509) 232-1707. Complaints are also accepted by written mail or in person at SRHD. Violations can result in $100 civil fines and escalating re-inspection fees for non-compliance. 

More information can be found at www.srhd.org. SRHD’s website offers comprehensive, updated information about Spokane Regional Health District and its triumphs in making Spokane a safer and healthier community. Become a fan of SRHD on Facebook to receive local safety and wellness tips. You can also follow us on Twitter @spokanehealth.