Laguna Beach has opted not to seek to prohibit retail sales of tobacco and vaping products in the city.

Editors’ Note: This dispatch is part of the Voice of OC Collegiate News Service, working with student journalists to cover public policy issues across Orange County. If you would like to submit your own student media project related to Orange County civics or if you have any response to this work, contact Collegiate News Service Editor Vik Jolly at

Council member George Weiss had requested the council consider directing staff to study the issue of banning such sales and returning with an ordinance for the council to examine at a later date.

The council voted 3-2 last week to end further consideration of a ban following a discussion. While the majority said there already are protections for youth and against smoking in public in place, Council members Weiss and Toni Iseman voted — and wanted — to continue the conversation. 

Council member Peter Blake voted with the majority, saying “This whole notion that we’re going to start banning legal substances or legal anything from being sold in town, to me, harks of nanny-state. What’s next?”

Laguna Beach was the first city in Orange County to ban smoking in public places.

“Cigarettes are lawful whether (people) like it or not,” said Council member Susan Kempf, also voting with the majority. “I’d like us to spend more time trying to enforce what we already have in the books, which is to keep going after people who decide to smoke out in public.”

Some community members who called into the meeting before the vote favored Weiss’s proposal, agreeing it would be better for the overall health of the community. 

Saying that smoking and vaping has a negative impact on both the health of individuals and the well-being of the environment, Weiss advocated for a smoke-free community.

“Teen vaping is a huge problem,” he said during last week’s meeting. “The state recognized it recently and has taxed vaping products, so it’s a little more expensive for teens to buy it. That’s a good step from the state, but I think we need to go further to protect that vulnerable class of teens that start vaping early to impress their friends.”

Added Iseman: “Vaping is deliberately aimed at kids; it’s an addiction toy, and big tobacco knows what they’re doing.”

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