News and Events

City of Stuart, Florida, Passes Ordinance to Restrict Youth Access and Exposure to Electronic Cigarettes
November 25, 2013

On November 25, 2013 the City Commission of Stuart, Florida voted unanimously to pass an ordinance to reduce youth access and exposure to electronic cigarettes.

The ordinance prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes to minors under the age of 18, places the products behind the counter requiring retailer-assisted sales, and bans the use of the devices in places where traditional tobacco is currently banned under the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act.

Stuart City Council
From L to R : Stuart Vice Mayor Troy McDonald, Kim Waser (Tobacco Free Partnership of Martin County),
Dr. Barry Hummel (Tobacco Prevention Network of Florida), Stuart Mayor Eual Clarke,
Ally Diaz (Martin County High School SWAT President)

The ordinance was put forth by Vice Mayor Troy McDonald, who was concerned by rising rates of use by middle school and high school students, and a lack of clear rules restricting the sale of e-cigarettes to minors at the state and federal level.

During the commissioners' discussion leading up to the vote, Mayor Eula Clarke mentioned that she received one email from someone protesting the ordinance as unconstitutional. City Attorney Michael Mortell reported that he had forwarded the email to all of the City Comissioners. Mr. Mortell than went on to address the constitutionality of the ordinance: "Listen, if one of Chief Dyess's officers walk into a convenience store and sees e-cigarettes next to the candy, and they ask the retailer to move them behind the counter where the kids can't get them... they're going to move the e-cigarettes so the kids can't get them."

Vice Mayor Troy McDonald spoke up to elaborate on the section of the ordinance restricting the use of these devices according to the rules of the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act, strongly supporting the inclusion of these rules in the Stuart ordinance.

After the discussion, the Stuart City Commission voted unanimously in favor of the new ordinance.

"The City of Stuart is completely within its rights to regulate these drug delivery devices," said Dr. Barry Hummel of the Tobacco Prevention Network of Florida. "A federal judge actually sided with the e-cigarette industry in 2010, declaring that the FDA could only regulate electronic nicotine delivery devices as tobacco products... a consumer product and a recreational drug (Sottera v FDA). The FDA guidelines grant local communities to authority to regulate the time, place, and manner of the sale and marketing of tobacco products, such as e-cigarettes. Now the e-cigarette industry and their lobbying groups seem upset that they have to play by the set of rules that they themselves went to court to secure."

The action taken by the City of Stuart to regulate electronic cigarettes illustrates the growing public health concern around these products. This action demonstrates local governments passing rules to protect its youth from nicotine addiction and to de-normalize the act of smoking, whether by traditional or electronic means. Stuart has joined a growing list of cities and counties in Florida that have passed age restrictions in the absence of federal or state law regulating the sale and marketing of these electronic nicotine delivery devices.

Recently, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that electronic cigarette use among has doubled nationally in the last year, making health officials concerned. The CDC stated that 4.7% of high school students had used an electronic cigarette in 2011 and that number rose to 10% in 2012.

This has also led to an increase in use of these drug delivery devices by teenagers on school campuses, as discussed in this article in the Washington Post, published on November 14, 2013.

More information on electronic cigarettes is available in this article, published in the Wall Street Journal on November 10, 2013.