La Verne bans the sale of flavored tobacco products

An interim ban on flavored tobacco products was passed by La Verne city council this week as California voters await a statewide referendum on the issue.

At its meeting on Monday, July 19, city council unanimously approved an ordinance banning the sale of flavored tobacco, which includes fruit-flavored products for electronic smoking and vaping devices. After a second reading in August, the ordinance would enter into force on January 1, 2022.

The upcoming ban would aim to prevent young people from becoming addicted to tobacco products by banning the sale of flavors targeting young consumers. According to the United States Food and Drug Administration, 81% of minors and 86% of young adults who have consumed a tobacco product report that their first tobacco product was flavored.

The city’s ordinance mirrors Senate Bill 793, which banned the sale of flavored tobacco and was suspended last year pending a November 2022 statewide referendum. Flavored shisha tobacco used in shisha pipes and menthol cigarettes are exempt from the ordinance.

La Verne will join a growing number of municipalities in the state, including Burbank, Beverly Hills and Long Beach, as well as the unincorporated Los Angeles County, which passed bans ahead of the 2022 vote.

The pandemic has further highlighted “the negative impact of the use of such products,” Mayor Tim Hepburn said in a press release Thursday, July 22.

“Since the emergence of flavored tobacco products, vapers and e-cigarettes, smoking has become an epidemic among young people across the country,” Hepburn said. “We are proud to pass this ordinance to protect children in our community.

The point came to the city council after the youth and family action committee of La Verne asked to pass a local ordinance rather than wait for the result of the vote in 2022. The committee is made up of residents, forces of order, school district employees and local associations. groups.

Three in five La Verne residents support a law banning the sale of flavored tobacco products, according to a community survey by Healthy Lungs La Verne of more than 900 people, a local coalition focused on eliminating smoking among adolescents. A number of health groups called for the meeting to support the ordinance, with some also arguing for bans on menthol and shisha tobacco.

“This is an opportunity to prioritize the safety of young people in La Verne with a comprehensive policy banning the sale of all flavored tobacco without exemptions,” said Ana-Alicia Carr, director of community advocacy at the American Heart Association.

Lori Bremner, head of the California base for Parents Against Vaping E-Cigarettes, said her organization constantly hears stories from parents seeking help with their teens’ tobacco addiction, often through vaping and smoking. smoking menthol cigarettes. She said La Verne should follow other cities that have included menthol cigarettes in their prescriptions.

“The children of La Verne deserve the same protections as the children of other municipalities,” said Bremner.

However, a ban on menthol cigarettes would only encourage people to circumvent the ordinance by traveling to other cities to buy flavored tobacco or by buying online, said Mayra Bautista, who sits on the board. of the California Chambers of Commerce, which represents retailers. She also called on the council to wait until the issue is decided by California voters.

“If this is taken off the shelves, the only thing that will be left on the shelves is Marlboro Red,” Bautista said. “If the problem is getting people to quit smoking, then with all of these regulations and restrictions, we are not solving this problem. “

Although the order does not take effect immediately, Salem Abudd, owner of Jake’s Smoke Shop on Foothill Boulevard, said the city’s move would put his business in jeopardy.

“No tobacco company can continue to operate with this ban,” Abudd said by phone Thursday. “I’ve been here since 2003, never had any problems and now you’re blaming us. This is not true.

“I want you to think of the families behind the tobacco shops,” he added. “It will cripple us.”

Abudd echoed Bautista’s sentiment that the ordinance will not deter teens from smoking, but will instead encourage them to look for other ways to get flavored tobacco products.

“Even though you banned it at La Verne, people go to Pomona, go to Claremont,” Abudd said. “You are not solving the problem.”

About Margaret Shaw

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