The legal gray area of electronic cigarettes may soon fall under Santa Fe’s existing tobacco ordinance if City Councilor Ron Trujillo’s efforts succeed.

The south side councilor recently proposed two resolutions that would ban e-cigarette sales to minors and bar the devices from being used inside and within 25 feet of public buildings. The idea behind the first resolution, Trujillo says, is that no law on the city's books prevents the selling of e-cigarettes to minors under 18 years old the way existing laws prevent tobacco sales to minors. Similar bans have been passed in cities like Boston, Seattle and Indianapolis.

Both resolutions would add e-cigarettes to the city's existing tobacco ordinance, which currently only specifies tobacco products.

A rapidly growing alternative to smoking, e-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that allow the consumer to inhale water vapor extracted from a fluid that often contains nicotine. Though proponents contend it's a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes, detractors lament that the real consequences are still unknown.

In the meantime, local governments across the country have wrestled with how to regulate vaping [cover story, Oct. 16, 2013: "Vapor Trail]. Trujillo, for his part, says he's had some unpleasant secondhand vaping experiences in public.

"I was in Applebee's eating and all the sudden I smelled cotton candy," he says. "Lo and behold, right next to me someone was using a cotton candy flavored e-cigarette."

Both measures have gone through the committee process and Trujillo expects a full council vote on them during the first week of February.
(Joey Peters)