County considers ban on public smoking, vaping

MOUNT VERNON — The Skagit County commissioners are considering a proposal from county Public Health to ban public smoking and vaping countywide.

Julie de Losada, division manager with Public Health’s Clinical Health Partnerships, said the proposed ordinance presented to the commissioners Tuesday is designed to protect nonsmokers, but she hopes it will also keep youth from picking up the habit.

A public hearing on the ordinance is scheduled for 2 p.m. April 9.

While the state has had a ban on smoking in public places since 2005, de Losada said Skagit County never approved that law. Because of this, the law could not be enforced locally.

If the commissioners approve the ordinance from Public Health, de Losada said smoking and vaping would be banned within 25 feet of the door of any place of employment, and at public social spaces such as parks or beaches.

She said the ordinance would give community members a tool to tell smokers or vapers that their actions aren’t allowed.

“We know that nonsmokers can have nicotine in their blood up to 24 hours after being near a vaper,” she said.

Most users, especially young people, don’t understand the potential dangers of the chemicals in vape liquid, and how they react to different levels of heat in different vape devices, she said.

“One pod of the Juul product contains the same nicotine as a pack of cigarettes,” de Losada said, referring to a popular vaping device.

But on top of that, vape liquids can contain less obvious carcinogens or hazardous materials, such as lead, she said.

Commissioners Ken Dahlstedt and Ron Wesen spoke Tuesday in support of the goals of the ordinance.

Wesen said he believes the county needs to do a better job with information and education on the dangers of vaping.

Dahlstedt said if the ordinance passes there will still be a handful of public places in the county that wouldn’t need to comply.



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