California State University East Bay

BART board responds to vape complaints

February 5, 2015

On Jan. 22 the BART board of directors voted to ban e-cigarettes and other vapor devices on BART trains and all BART properties. BART riders have made complaints about second-hand vapors and the proposal is a direct response.

The BART board will take a second vote for final approval of the ban at its Feb. 12 meeting, which is open to the public.

If approved, BART will join AC Transit, San Francisco Muni, and Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authorization, who have all banned the use of vapor emitting devices.

According to the proposal, the penalties for use of e-cigarettes on BART property would be $100 for first-time violators and $200 for second-time offenses.
A fine of up to $500 could be charged to offenders for each additional violation of the ordinance within a five-year period.

“For purpose of enforcement, the smoking ban applies equally to both vaping devices and smoked tobacco products in an effort to provide a consistent non-smoking experience for our patrons,” BART Communications Officer Taylor Huckaby said.

“[A] high volume [of complaints] from a variety of sources including directly to board members from passengers in their district,” said Huckaby.

The measure was introduced in order to bring the policy in line with other transit systems and to ensure passengers can ride BART trains without having to breathe in and smell other people’s vapor.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that insufficient information is available on these new products to determine if the chemicals contained inside e-cigarettes are safer than conventional cigarettes.

Although e-cigarettes do not produce tobacco smoke, the institute explains that they still contain nicotine and other potentially harmful chemicals, and that recent research suggests nicotine exposure may also lead to addiction of other substances.

Non-profit e-cigarette advocacy organization, Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association, spokesperson Tom Kiklas, contends that e-cigarettes are “vastly less harmful than traditional cigarettes” and have “no problem with sensible use restrictions at this time.”

They also maintain that no study has been able to find a single ingredient in e-cigarette vapor that is harmful to humans.

The new restrictions on BART have occurred at a time when many other state and local agencies are attempting to pass regulations on e-cigarette use.

Senator Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, introduced SB140 to the California State Senate, which would classify e-cigarette devices as tobacco products similar to cigarettes.

The bill would prohibit Californians from using such devices in buses, hospitals, restaurants, and other places where smoking tobacco products is already against the law.

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