City bans e-cigarettes, but councilman suggests allowing their use with a prescription for smoking cessation

A Juul vaping pen that can be purchased at any 7-Eleven. Post photo.
A Juul vaping pen that can be purchased at any 7-Eleven. Post photo.

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.


  1. Seems like a really good idea. Banning a product for adults because of abuse by youth is ridiculous. Kids always get age-restricted products. Ever hear of a fake ID?

    • E-cigarettes are not allowed by law to say they help people quit smoking because they are not approved by the FDA as a cessation tool. Why not? Because they refuse to go through the testing required to be able to deem it effective for cessation. And why won’t they?? Because they are not effective at helping smokers quit, they continue the nicotine addiction, and they’ve been marketed in a way to target youth, get them addicted to nicotine too.

  2. The previous commenter is incorrect. There are several clinical trials of electronic cigarettes taking place right now that could lead to FDA approval. And these products have been proven to be effective at helping smokers quit with behavioral therapy. This study ( published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed the 1-year abstinence rate for e-cigarette users was twice the rate of those receiving other nicotine replacement therapies. The study emphasized that these rates were achieved with behavioral support.

    I’m suspicious of Sandi’s comments. There is an active misinformation campaign underway by the tobacco industry to get people to say vaping is just as bad as cigarette smoking. If Ray Mueller’s idea takes off, the tobacco industry will attack it with everything they’ve got because it will reduce smoking rates.

  3. Well maybe a prescription exception will be considered if and when the FDA says vaping can help persons quit smoking cigaretts. The real problem could be that laws against vaping could reduce the number of jobs in the business. That apparently was President Trump’s thinking. Heroin workers were likewise hit hard by laws against heroin. And, ya know, if rape is made illegal, where are pimps going to find product?

  4. “That apparently was President Trump’s thinking.” Really, Gary, can you post a link to a news article that says Trump is pro-vaping? Or maybe he has some clever strategy in mind, where he publicly seeks a vaping ban while privately wants to promote it? Why do ignorant liberals blame everything on Trump?

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