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Council bans e-cigarette sales to minors

Sat., April 9, 2011

The Millwood Youth Advisory Council took a step it believes will help protect area youth. During the Millwood City Council monthly meeting on Monday, youth council President Kelly Hansen presented an ordinance banning the selling of electronic cigarettes to minors.

Electronic cigarettes or “e-cigarettes” are “battery-operated devices that use liquid cartridges filled with nicotine, flavors and other chemicals.”

The youth council developed the ordinance based on a resolution passed by the Spokane Regional Health District Board of Health last year requesting jurisdictions to adopt policies prohibiting sale of e-cigarettes to minors. The city of Spokane Valley and Spokane County have since adopted similar ordinances. 

Councilman Glenn Bailey raised the question as to why the e-cigarettes are not already under federal and state regulation.

“It’s up to the local municipalities to make ordinances?” Bailey asked. “Is it legal for us to do that?”

City Attorney Brian Werst explained that e-cigarettes fall outside FDA jurisdiction because they are not considered a tobacco product. Therefore, the FDA is advising local jurisdictions to regulate minors’ usage.

“Unfortunately, this is another instance where technology is much faster than legislation,” Werst said. “It is legal to regulate the public safety, health and welfare of minors in your jurisdiction.”

The council unanimously approved the ordinance.

“They did a really nice job,” Werst said of the youth council’s work on the project. In other action, Werst presented an ordinance granting a nonexclusive franchise to Electric Lightwave LLC. The measure would allow the entity to provide noncable telecommunication services in the city.

The 15-page ordinance outlined the city’s general requirements, such as providing toll free access, being responsive to customer needs, and rates provided in a fair and reasonable manner.

By law, the council is restricted to a five-day waiting period prior to taking action on a franchise ordinance. Therefore, the council moved to publish the information and decided to vote on the agreement next month.

Maintenance Supervisor Cleve McCoul informed the council that the school zone signage requested is not available. An ordinance passed last June provides the ability to enforce a posted 20 mph speed limit during all hours in Millwood school and playground zones. However, according to McCoul signage is unavailable to designate all hours. McCoul discussed three options for the city: 20 mph when children are present, 20 mph when lights are flashing, and 20 mph with the ability to insert designated hours.

“What I would like to recommend we do is take a certain time and put it on there, then we have something that is enforceable and people know when it is,” Bailey said about posting designated hours. Bailey opposed using the “when children are present” signs because he believed it is ambiguous.

Since a change would require amending the ordinance, Werst proposed talking to traffic engineer Matt Gillis from Welch Comer for a recommendation, which he would use to draft a revised ordinance and present to the council.

The council also approved the appointment of Laura Burrill to the Planning Commission. Her six-year term begins immediately.

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