Electronic cigarette users on San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit system are out of luck if they’re hoping to vape during their commutes.
On Thursday, Feb. 12, the BART directors voted unanimously to ban the devices on all of their trains and in all BART stations.
The measure was backed by the American Lung Association and other health groups on the grounds that the secondhand vapors and particle pollution from the e-cigs can harm other passengers.
BART directors made the decision to ban use of the devices after getting many complaints from other riders about secondhand vapors, according to BART spokesman Taylor Huckaby.
Vaping, or using an Electronic Nicotine Delivery System (ENDS), has caught on in recent years as a smokeless alternative to tobacco cigarettes. Devices range from simple cigarette lookalikes, or cigalikes, to more complex rechargeable vapor pens designed to produce greater amounts of vapor.
So far, the state of California and the federal government have no guidelines to restrict the use of e-cigs in public. However, individual towns, cities, businesses, and agencies around the country have all taken steps to ban the devices’ use in public and private establishments.
BART released a staff memo to explain the decision, saying that there are health concerns over secondhand exposure to the devices, just as there are over secondhand cigarette smoke.
The ordinance takes effect immediately but it won’t be enforced by BART just yet.
Huckaby explained that the agency will update its signs at stations and on trains to let riders know about this new restriction.
BART police officers will issue warning tickets first to any e-cigarette users caught using the devices in these restricted areas.
In the future, first-time violators will face a penalty of $100. That amount will go up to $200 after the second offense.
Huckaby stated that three violations in a five-year period will result in a fine of $500.
The measure also coincides with an announcement from the state’s Department of Public Health, which declared e-cigarettes a public health threat.