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Sandy Council takes e-cigs out of hands of children

-  City Council makes the decision to ban the product for use by anyone younger than 18


The city of Sandy has paved its own way on a popular topic for the Oregon Legislature. On Monday, June 2, the City Council unanimously decided to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors younger than 18.

At the council’s May 5 meeting, there was a consensus among councilors to bring back and consider an ordinance such as this. Over one month, City Manager Seth Atkinson put together an ordinance that he considers simple and straightforward.

The changes to the municipal code will prohibit the sale and use of tobacco and vapor products to youths under 18, with electronic cigarettes defined under tobacco because they can contain nicotine. The city defines a vapor product as one that “employs a mechanical heating element, battery or circuit and that can be used to heat a solution.”

However, at the meeting, Councilor Jeremy Pietzold wanted to make clear that this ordinance in no way affects use of the products by adults — it is purely a ban to keep them out of the hands of minors.

The new ordinance is drawn from a similar ban adopted by North Plains earlier this year.

“Their city manager reported to me that up to this point, vendors have been willing to comply,” he said. “Some may even have their own policy on these types of items.”

Although Mayor Bill King admitted he doesn’t know much about the chemical contents of e-cigarettes, he said he is aware that some of them contain nicotine and “minors certainly shouldn’t be using them,” he said.

One Sandy e-cigarette retailer agrees. Employees of Big Apple Market, 38636 Proctor Blvd., said they would not sell e-cigarettes to minors even without a ban, due to the fact that they can contain nicotine.

“No one here will sell it to minors,” said Mindy, an employee of the market, who did not want to give her last name. “It has nicotine in it, and that’s a product of tobacco. It’s the law.”

The ordinance will go into effect 30 days after being voted through, on Wednesday, July 2.

Sandy Police Chief Kim Yamashita said enforcement of the ordinance will begin with education. Notices will be sent to Sandy retailers known to carry e-cigarettes.

“Most businesses in Sandy want to do the right thing and work well with us,” Yamashita said. “I don’t think this will be a big deal.”

She said that enforcement of the ordinance will be treated the same as bans on tobacco products for minors. Children under the age of 18 caught with e-cigarettes will face similar charges to minor in possession of tobacco. Sales of e-cigarette products to minors will result in a charge of endangering the welfare of a minor, a misdemeanor offense.

The ordinance not only bans sales to minors, it requires that e-cigarettes be kept away from areas where customers can directly access them without the aid of an employee, such as in a glass case behind the counter.

“As we see displays that do not comply we will educate and give the business time to fix the problem and re-check,” Yamashita said.