Palo Alto may start fining people for vaping in public

Some health officials and anti-smoking activists also worry about inserting legal marijuana into the growing world of vaping, given uncertainties about the smoking alternative’s long-term effects. | HAZEMMKAMAL, iStock

Sorry Palo Alto teens, your days of carefree vaping in public may be coming to an end.

The City of Palo Alto is considering a fine for vaping in public, a move targeting the supposed vaping epidemic they believe is plaguing their youth, according to KRON4.

They might be on to something – nearly 28 percent of U.S. high school students vape, according to federal health data. And it’s on the rise, too, having increased 7 percent since 2018.

Palo Alto already decided to ban the sale of flavored tobacco and e-cigarettes in brick-and-mortar stores along with the rest of Santa Clara County. However, the city believes this ban won’t stop teens, who might buy them online or from friends instead.

RELATED: San Francisco Bay Area records its first death linked to vaping

It’s unclear if the fine would only affect minors or how much it would be – it’s an unprecedented conversation for the city to have. It’s also unclear who would enforce the public vaping ban, as city leaders say the Palo Alto police and Public Works departments, who already enforce restrictions on public tobacco use, don’t have enough resources to add vaping to their enforcement duties.

Palo Alto’s ban on the sale of vaping products will go into effect in 2020. Discussion of a potential fine will continue into the new year as well.

Madeline Wells is an SFGATE associate digital reporter. Email: | Twitter: @madwells22

Madeline Wells