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Santa Clara County Bans E-Cigarettes, Hopes Cities Will Follow Suit

Santa Clara County is the latest county in California to completely ban the sale of e-cigarettes.

During its Nov. 5 meeting, the County Board of Supervisors approved a ban on the sale or distribution of e-cigarette devices and associated products. It also voted to clarify the current ban on flavored tobacco products to include menthol and eliminated the exemption for retailers that serve adults over 21 to sell flavored tobacco products.

“It is based on the same theory that these are not FDA approved devices. These are not regulated and the current evidence seems to show considerable lack of safety in using these products,” said County Supervisor Susan Ellenberg, whose district includes the City of Santa Clara. “It really is an overall health issue with a more particular focus on youth but you really can’t make a different claim for the same unregulated products for adults.”


While the ban was immediate, the actual results may not be seen for months.

“They don’t have to comply until their current permit expires. It depends on the retailer. Some could be a couple of years away; some could be months away,” said Ellenberg.

Santa Clara County Department of Environmental Health oversees the permitting process and has simply stopped issuing permits for e-cigarette retailers.

Ellenberg says while the Board understands this will only affect a small portion of the county, the hope is that it will have a wider impact down the road.

“We can only regulate in unincorporated Santa Clara County; we can’t impact the cities. The reality is that this is impacting just 17 retailers,” said Ellenberg. “The greater purpose of it is ideally to be a model ordinance for cities and a number of cities throughout the county are taking up this mantel.”

Ellenberg says approximately seven cities are working with the Santa Clara County Public Health on a similar ban, including Sunnyvale.

“Our public health department has been leading on this for a long time and working with a number of cities and offering to help them with their implementation and oversight of the permitting process, even with some financial help there,” said Supervisor Ellenberg.

The City of Santa Clara has not made any indication that it will issue an all-out ban on the sale of e-cigarettes, but City Director of Communications Lenka Wright did point out that the City expanded its Smoking and Tobacco Regulations Ordinance, which includes e-cigarettes, earlier this year.

In February, the City expanded smoking restricted areas to include open air dining areas, public parks, service areas such as ATMs and transit stops, public places being used for a public event, multi-use residences such as apartment complexes and within 30 feet of any operable doorway, window opening and vent in any area where smoking is prohibited.

All of the regulations apply to cigarettes, cigars, pipes, electronic or battery-operated cigarettes or vape devices, cannabis and marijuana.

So far, Santa Clara County has not heard from e-cigarette producers like Juul about opposition to the ban. Juul was very vocal in its opposition to San Francisco’s ban on e-cigarettes earlier this year.

On Nov. 5, San Francisco voted on Proposition C, a measure designed to authorize and regulate the sale of e-cigarettes in San Francisco. It was defeated with less than 20 percent of the population voting in favor of the proposition.


  1. Anthony Becker 5 years ago

    Why does a select few tell us how to live? let people decide not to use it. the more you ban things, the more it creates a black market and crime. There are things I don’t like but I don’t propose bans on it. Nanny state policies create criminal acts and create putting people into the criminal system. I remember years ago they pushed many to vape instead of smoke cigarettes, now they want to ban what they got others to do. It’s backwards.

    • Lynn 5 years ago

      Exactly right, why in the world does the state, county feds, etc get to tell us what to do …and why in the name of all that’s good healthy and right do our choices depend on the govt’s. WRONG,wrong, wrong and so wrong!
      Cigarettes are not banned and they kill millions every darn year. BUT noooo, that’s TOO much money in the Feds pocket. This free country is no longer a land of free choices. Booze kills too but that’s in excess. Cigarettes have many chemicals in them and are not straight tobacco as they used to be.

  2. Brett 5 years ago

    I find this ban completely outrageous. They say this ban is targeted toward the youth. Well guess what? Kids smoke dope. Kids pop opioids, Kids find people to buy them booze and kids do blow in Jr High School. AND YET. Cigarettes are legal. alcohol is legal and now it’s totally fine to smoke dope in California. But u wanna but a ban on a product that has saved my life. I was a complete and utter slave to cigarettes for 27 years . I tried everything under the sun to get off of cigarettes. Cold turkey, Chantix, Hypnosis, the patch, and nicotine gum. I’m a 52-year-old man who can make decisions for myself and I don’t want to become hostage to children whose parents cannot control their behavior, or shop owners who are selling products to people under 21 years of age. Those shopkeepers should be put in jail. I haven’t smoked a cigarette in 7 1/2 years. You know how I got off cigarettes? I use a vaporizer that has a very very low amount of nicotine in it. It has 3 ingredients in it. 3! not 600 chemicals per drag. But 3 ingredients! propyleneglycol, vegetable glycerin pharmaceutical grade nicotine and a little bit of food flavoring. My clothes don’t stink, I can breathe again, my blood pressure has gone down and my heart rate has gone down. The color of my skin is back. I no longer have that gray pallor colored skin that cigarette smokers have. My teeth are white again, I sleep better at night, my cravings are much less and I’ve never had a problem with my chest since I started vaping. I’m not a cloud chaser I’m just someone who is still addicted to nicotine trying to quit. Go ahead and ban e-cigarette’s and watch all those millions of people who quit smoking cigarettes go back to smoking cigarettes which is just what Big Tobacco wants. Hey have you seen the new flavored Jack Daniels bottle at your local Safeway? Dear Santa Clara Valley Politicians wake up! What the hell are u doing? Parents control your teenagers. Cops – shut down the strip mall tobacco shops who sell to underage kids. I don’t smoke dope and I don’t drink alcohol but you’re gonna put a ban on my e-cigarette which has saved my life, while cigarettes, alcohol and marijuana are legal. Fuck you! This is a total disgrace. Come on people! Where you at?

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