Pierce County is the second most populous county in Washington State, with roughly 800,000 residents. As of January 1, the County Board of Health has introduced new restrictions on electronic cigarettes that group these products in with tobacco products.
This means that vapers can no longer be used in public places or at work sites. The only ‘public’ place you can now vape in the county is in retailers’ stores where equipment and liquids are sold. On top of this, retailers must purchase a license to continue to operate.
Like many of the laws and regulations being introduced around the world at the moment, much of the understanding behind it is due to negative press attention and false information.
That’s why one not-for-profit pro-vaping group has decided to sue the Tacoma-Pierce County Board of Health over these new restrictions.
The Pink Lung Brigade operates in the Washington State to promote safer alternatives to combustible tobacco products. Naturally, they are determined to protect vaping to ensure it remains as a smoking cessation device for those looking to quit.
The group alleges that the law will both “greatly damage and completely destroy businesses for no valid reason and no real public interest”. They have requested that a judge terminate the restrictions before they have the opportunity to eradicate vaping businesses in the county.
The main reason these restrictions will harm businesses is not just the loss of customers, but because the license to sell products means they will need to install a ventilation system that costs in the tens of thousands. This rule exists in spite of the fact that a French study found that vapour dissipates in 11 seconds (compared with cigarettes, which takes as much as 19-20 minutes).
The PLB has already had some successes in squashing vaping restrictions in Washington State, and will hopefully win in this case, too.