The use of electronic cigarettes—or "E-Smoking"—has been banned in LA public schools, putting the devices in the same category as tobacco products. Some worry that the devices could be a gateway to tobacco use, even though they may not be as unhealthy as tobacco cigarettes. Mekahlo Medina reports from downtown LA for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014.
As of Wednesday, e-cigarettes face new regulations in Los Angeles.
Last month, the city council unanimously approved a measure to regulate the electronic cigarette the same way it does regular tobacco products, prohibiting those under 18 from using them.
E-cigarettes are battery powered devices, similar in shape to regular cigarettes, that use heat to vaporize a liquid containing some nicotine and fruit and candy flavorings. Users say they aren't smoking, but rather "vaping."
Some have argued that e-cigarettes can be a gateway to more harmful behaviors such as tobacco cigarette smoking.
"What that physical act does is it creates a normalized behavior," LA Unified School District’s Tim Kordic said.
Some school principals said they’ve even seen kids replace nicotine in the device with THC, the primary active ingredient in marijuana, according to an NBC4 report.
LAUSD had already banned e-cigarettes under its paraphernalia rules, but the new law bans underage use entirely.
"I don’t like cigarettes at all so these to me are probably not any different," LAUSD parent Betty Garrido said.
The new regulations also mean that e-cigarettes can longer be purchased from street kiosks, self-service displays, or mobile units such as ice cream trucks.
"(I’ve seen teens) outside the mall, and they’re all like on the corner of the street, just smoking. I can tell they’re like in high school," said Nico Filoseta, who’s younger brother is in high school.
Filoseta hopes the new law will keep his teen brother smoke-free.