BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer
Menlo Park City Council unanimously banned e-cigarettes last night (Dec. 17) and then Councilman Ray Mueller proposed something that may be unprecedented.
Mueller asked that council look into the idea of allowing people who are trying to stop smoking to obtain vaping devices with a doctor’s prescription. The devices would be kept behind a pharmacy counter.
The original intent of e-cigarette devices such as those made by Juul was to help people quit smoking. But once they hit the market, young people started using them, which has resulted in a nationwide call for a ban on the product.
According to the California Student Tobacco Survey, 20.8% of teens in San Mateo County vaped in 2018, much higher from 11.8% in 2017.
In the past several months, vaping has been related to hundreds of respiratory illnesses. Doctors have linked 33 deaths to the project, though many were using THC pods to vape.
A bigger problem than vaping is regular cigarette smoking. Every year, 448,000 Americans die from smoking, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Using that figure, it’s likely that 50 people die of smoking-related illnesses in Menlo Park each year.
The e-cig ban passed last night also prohibits free samples and coupons for the devices. Mueller’s request was not part of the ban passed last night, but may be looked at next year.
Menlo Park isn’t alone in opposing vaping. A handful of school districts have sued Juul over its youth-oriented advertising. Yesterday, San Mateo County’s Office of Education filed a federal lawsuit against Juul, seeking damages for the company’s marketing and product design.