The city of Spokane Valley joined surrounding jurisdictions on Tuesday in an attempt to safeguard against potential dangers of e-cigarettes.
The City Council heard the first reading of an ordinance that would follow recommendations provided by the Spokane Regional Health District implementing fines for those under 18 in possession of e-cigarettes as well as stores who sell the products to minors. Earlier this week, both Spokane County and the city of Spokane approved similar regulations.
“It’s important that we have a unified approach,” said Cary Driskell, acting city attorney for Spokane Valley. “There is a concern that the sale of e-cigarettes to minors could be detrimental to their health.”
Introduced as the latest approach to wean smokers away from real cigarettes, e-cigarettes contain nicotine, an addictive substance known to constrict arteries and cause increased blood pressure and heart rate. The city’s background documentation on the ordinance states that municipal action is warranted “because e-cigarettes are not well-regulated by any state or federal agency at this time, their health impacts are unclear and the percentage of nicotine or other harmful ingredients is unknown beyond the manufacturer’s unverified claims.”
On Tuesday, the Spokane County commissioners unanimously approved an ordinance that would impose a $513 fine on retailers in unincorporated county areas that sell e-cigarettes to minors. A $103 penalty would be applied to minors in possession.
Commissioner Mark Richard described how he lost his mother to emphysema caused by smoking and said one of the main reasons he ran for office was “to make our community safer and better for youth.” Commissioner Al French told attendees at Tuesday’s meeting that both his father and mother-in-law died from emphysema – also brought about by cigarette use.
A second reading on Spokane Valley’s e-cigarette ordinance is scheduled for Feb. 22. Driskell said, if approved, the regulations would not go into effect until March 31 allowing for “an education period to let vendors know.”
The city’s penalty for retailers would involve a $250 fine, plus court costs, and a $90 fee for minors in possession.
In other council news:
The City Council will not hold its regular meeting at City Hall next Tuesday, Feb. 15. Council members will be traveling to Olympia to discuss city matters with legislators. The council will reconvene on Tuesday, Feb.
- An executive session scheduled for March 8 to evaluate the applications for a new council member to replace Rose Dempsey has been moved to March 22. The appointment of the replacement has also been pushed ahead from March 29 to April 4, although candidate applications are still due by 4 p.m. on March 4.
- Public Works Director Neil Kersten announced the final stages of Spokane County’s sewer construction program would take place this year in the eastern Spokane Valley neighborhoods of Greenhaven and Mica View. The city’s portion of the cost would be approximately $800,000 for paving and $100,000 for drainage improvements, Kersten said. The county typically covers around two-thirds of the program’s costs.