MARIPOSA COUNTY — Under a new ordinance, Mariposa County joins other California jurisdictions in prohibiting electronic smoking devices, along with tobacco, in select parks, sports fields, a farmers market, YARTS bus stops and certain recreational areas.
The goal is to reduce the public’s exposure to chemicals and keep kids away from ever-new ways to ingest harmful tobacco products in a county where one in five people reportedly smoke.
In Mariposa County, the rate of adult smoking appears to be considerably higher than the state average. According to countyhealthrankings.org, 20 percent of Mariposa County residents are shown to be smokers, compared with California as a whole, where smokers number 13 percent overall.
It’s not uncommon for rural mountain communities to report a higher incidence of smoking, and these days, the old habit comes in new forms. The Mariposa Board of Supervisors took note of the trend, and acted recently to make a change.
In a vote of 5 to 0, Supervisors adopted an ordinance for Smoking and Tobacco under Chapter 25, No. 1112, updating regulations from 1950 and 1992. The ordinance results in county laws regulating smoking and tobacco use that are current, consistent with state law, and relevant for today, according to the county public health department. The new rules took effect late last November.
Now, Mariposa County stands with approximately 62 other local jurisdictions in California that are prohibiting Electronic Smoking Devices (ESD) in specific locations, along with nearly 350 cities and counties with laws restricting smoking in parks or recreational areas.
The law now treats ESDs, also known as e-cigarettes or vaporizers, just like conventional smoking and tobacco products. The devices, which are used to deliver an inhaled dose of nicotine or other substances, are prohibited in all workplaces subject to the California labor law restricting smoking.
In order to reduce exposure to harmful effects of secondhand smoke in the community, especially for children, the new ordinance prohibits smoking and tobacco use at all Mariposa County parks, community parks/sports fields, the Mariposa Farmers Market, the Mariposa Creek Parkway, and YARTS bus stops.
According to the Mariposa County Health Department and its Tobacco Education Program, current research has found that ESDs contain aerosols with harmful chemicals and are a threat to children who may ingest the e-cigarette juice. The State of California’s Tobacco Education and Research Oversight Committee (TEROC) opposes the use of e-cigarettes in all areas where other tobacco products are banned. Further, the Centers for Disease Control stated: “it is critical that comprehensive tobacco control and prevention strategies for youth focus on all tobacco products, not just cigarettes.”
The changes are based on the known health impacts of smoking, and secondhand smoke on non-smokers, as well as the unknown health risks due to e-cigarettes and vaporizing. By designating outdoor recreation areas as smoke-free, a decrease in tobacco litter and the risk of wildfire caused by a smoldering cigarette is possible. The new ordinance demonstrates the Board of Supervisors’ commitment to promote a healthy environment in Mariposa County.
For more information, please contact the Mariposa County Health Department Tobacco Education Program at (209) 966-3689 or visit the program website.