LA's e-cigarette ban takes effect Saturday: What you need to know

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The city of Los Angeles’ ban on e-cigarettes goes into effect at midnight tonight. Here’s what you need to know:

Where is smoking e-cigarettes not allowed?

Basically anywhere that smoking regular cigarettes is not allowed. This includes indoor workplaces, restaurants, bars and nightclubs. They’re also banned in Los Angeles City parks, on its beaches, and in public places like farmers markets and recreational facilities.

An exception is indoor lounges and businesses specifically dedicated to the sale and use of e-cigarettes.

How will the city enforce the ban?

A spokeswoman for the L.A.P.D. said the department is educating its officers on the new rules so they know to enforce the ban. She said officers will respond to calls reporting illegal e-cigarette use, though she also said officers will not prioritize those calls over emergencies.

A spokesman for City Attorney Mike Feuer said his office also plans to implement the ban through public education. It is working on a Frequently Asked Questions page, is developing an online complaint form and will soon make downloadable signs available on the city's website.

What are the penalties?

Violating the city’s smoking rules is an infraction, and police officers will issue citations. A spokesman for the city attorney said that means a fine of up to $250.

How can I report people breaking the rules?

You can call the city's Tobacco Enforcement Program at (213) 978-7970.

Remind me why this is happening?

The Los Angeles City Council adopted the e-cigarette ban in early March. Council members were concerned that allowing e-cigarettes in public places could expose non-smokers to potentially harmful vapor emitted by the devices. Some also feared allowing e-cigarettes in public places could make smoking look cool again and encourage teenagers to start smoking.

The decision was controversial. E-cigarette advocates argued that many people use the devices in an effort to quit smoking. They said that regulating e-cigarettes as if they were regular cigarettes would undermine that effort because e-cigarette users at bars and restaurants would be forced to go outside and use their devices surrounded by tobacco smokers.

But the council was unconvinced.

"I will not support anything -- anything -- that might attract one new smoker,” Council President Herb Wesson said before voting for the ban.

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