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Crackdown On E-Cigarette Sales Sought By San Jose City Councilmember

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) -- A San Jose city councilmember has initiated a process to try and limit or ban the sale of e-cigarettes within the city.

In a memo to the Rules Committee, Councilmember Magdalena Carrasco cited an "overconcentration" of tobacco retail locations in downtown San Jose, as well as District 5, her own district, which is home to large Latino and Vietnamese communities.

"These kinds of products are directly marketing youth of color, communities of color. It's history repeating itself," said Carrasco.

According to the memo, Carrasco is also seeking an ordinance that would ban on non-FDA approved e-cigarettes, that would also prohibit the "sale and distribution to any person in San Jose of flavored tobacco products and electronic cigarettes that require, but have not received, an FDA order approving their marketing."

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Carrasco is also pushing for tighter restrictions near schools and other "youth sensitive areas". The councilwoman drew attention to the corner of White and Alum Rock Roads, where James Lick High School is a short distance away from three tobacco retailers.

"They're in front of schools, they're near libraries, they're near were our youth recreate, where they play, where they study, and where they go to school. So we want them out of our communities," said Carrasco.

California joined the national pushback against e-cigarettes, with an executive order from Gov. Gavin Newsom, declaring that he would spend at least $20 million on a public awareness campaign to educate users about the dangers of e-cigarettes.

"We're going to focus our marketing campaign, targeting this epidemic of vaping in the state of California," said Newsom.

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During the upcoming Rules Committee meeting on Wednesday, Mary Ann Dewan, Superintendent for the Santa Clara County Office of Education, is set to to testify before the members in support of a ban on sale of e-cigarettes. Dewan will detail reports of students exhibiting signs of nicotine withdrawal, who arrive in class jittery with anxiety, with problems focusing, and asking to be excused to the bathroom in order to use concealed vaping pens.

"I think that our young people count on us to protect them. And these are very simple, reasonable steps to help enforce laws that are already in existence," said Dewan.

Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, criticized cities like Berkeley and San Francisco that have enacted similar bans. Livermore voters are set to decide on a ban next year.

"The idea of these city councils trying to take them away, and telling adults, you are free to purchase Marlboros, you are free to purchase Camels, but you can't even buy even buy a single vaping product in our city, that doesn't make sense. It's not going to be good for public health. When you have adult ex-smokers, unable to access the product that keeps them smoke free, what do they think is going to happen to the ex-smokers who vape? That they're all going to stop using nicotine magically? No, some of them are going to return to cigarettes, and others will go to illicit black markets," said Conley.

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Jaseeck Constantino, a 19 year old student at San Jose State, has been a casual vaper since he was 17. He says a citywide ban would be the push to get him and his friends to finally quit.

"Eventually, I mean if you completely ban it, just the fact that it's so hard to get, will make people not do it. You know what I'm saying?" said Constantino.

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