City councils in both Los Angeles and Long Beach have voted to restrict sales and use of electronic cigarettes.

On Wednesday, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to have City Attorney Mike Feuer draw up an ordinance to prohibit the sale to minors of e-cigarettes, known as personal vaporizers or “vapes.” The battery-powered devices would also be banned from sale at kiosks and at displays directly accessible to customers.

The council also voted to have Feuer draw up another ordinance banning the use of electronic cigarettes in all places that tobacco use is banned, including restaurants, public parks, playgrounds, beaches, schools, daycare centers and libraries.

“The City of Los Angeles is doing exactly the right thing, by creating a sound and logical regulatory framework for e-cigarette sales and use,” said Councilman Paul Koretz. “I’m especially concerned that many people and businesses presently think it’s perfectly OK for young people to purchase and try e-cigarettes.”

On Tuesday, the Long Beach City Council voted to take a similar step, ordering City Attorney Charles Parkin to draw up ordinances regulating the sale and use of electronic cigarettes in the same way as tobacco products.

Electronic cigarettes were introduced into the United States in 2007 and since then, sales have rocketed past the billion dollar mark. They use battery-powered dispensers to turn a nicotine-infused liquid into vapor; the liquid is often flavored.

Proponents say e-cigarettes are a safer alternative to smoking conventional cigarettes, since they do not contain tar and some other harmful chemicals. Also, users of these dispensers can control the dose of nicotine, gradually decreasing it.

But opponents say the health impacts of electronic cigarettes have yet to be fully studied. And since their sales have so far been largely unregulated, children have had unrestricted access.

Previous coverage:

Smoked Out? Cities’ Concerns Leave E-Cigarette Shops Up in Air

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