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Unanimous vote to ban on e-cigarettes in Santa Maria

Flickr: Lindsay Fox

The Santa Maria City Council voted 5-0 on Wednesday to ban the use of electronic cigarettes in some public places. The ban mirrors restrictions already in place for the use of tobacco products.

The council will conduct a second reading of the ordinance at its meeting on March 18, and it will go into effect 30 days later.

The unanimous vote came after comments from the public, as well as some personal notes from the council members themselves, according to city spokesperson Mark van de Kamp.

Santa Maria joins a growing number of cities adding e-cigarette bans to their local laws. The Los Angeles City Council also voted in favor of a ban Tuesday, making it the second largest city in the nation to do so. 

Locally, the issue was brought to the table by Santa Maria's city librarian, who was looking for some guidance on how to address e-cigarettes within the library facility.

"A patron came in the library recently with an e-cigarette and staff asked for some direction on whether that would be okay or not, and that was the first time anyone had come in with one," said City Librarian Mary Housel who brought the issue to the council's attention. "So, we went ahead and referred it to the city attorney's office to get their advice on including that definition in our city's no smoking policy."

Housel says, in her opinion "a cigarette is a cigarette" and the city should be consistent with the public.

On the Central Coast, Buellton also has an e-cigarette ban in place. Several other cities are considering one, including San Luis Obispo and Goleta. Santa Barbara County is also looking into the issue.