Santa Ana chooses to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products

The Santa Ana City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products to protect young residents.

“We are in the midst of a youth smoking epidemic in which tobacco companies are luring children into a life of nicotine addiction with the sale and targeted marketing of candy-flavored tobacco products,” the statement said. Councilor Nelida Mendoza during the meeting. “For too long, tobacco companies have exploited our youth, targeting our communities with misleading ads and candy flavors.”

The council approved the first reading of the ordinance and will have to finalize the law at its next meeting.

When council initially discussed the ban in late December, some council members supported the effort to reduce the harmful health effects to the city’s young people, but wanted to ensure the ordinance did not discriminate by inadvertently communities that use flavored tobacco products as part of their culture. traditions, such as hookah.

In Los Angeles, hookah business owners protested in June as city officials considered banning flavored tobacco sales. West Hollywood banned sales of flavored tobacco last February, except for shisha tobacco, the product smoked in hookahs.

The council had the option of excluding hookah from the ban on Tuesday, but opted for a total ban.

“The point is, whether it’s a hookah, whether it’s an old pipe… whatever the device, wherever it is, does it cause harm? Yes or not,” Councilman Phil Bacerra said. “I think it’s our duty on this stage to try to protect our community members when we can. I believe this ban would do that.

The council opted to provide some support to local tobacco companies by opting to approve the ordinance on first reading rather than an emergency ordinance, which would go into effect immediately.

Now, companies will have about 45 days before the order takes effect to try to legally sell their remaining flavored tobacco products. Councilwoman Thai Viet Phan said instituting an immediate ban could have hurt businesses and potentially lead to lawsuits.

“A lot of these smaller retailers have inventory, whether it’s $10,000, $20,000, $5,000, whatever,” Phan said. “To ban the sale of flavored tobacco today would mean that they might not be able to resell it to the wholesaler or anyone else.”

The Santa Ana ban comes as local, state and federal governments consider how to handle flavored tobacco use among young adults. The US Food and Drug Administration last year announced efforts to ban menthol in flavored cigarettes and cigars to reduce addiction, death and “youth experimentation”. Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, with 16 million people living with illness caused by smoking.

In 2020, California passed a law banning the retail sale of flavored tobacco. But earlier this year, the law was shelved after a tobacco industry-backed referendum qualified for the November 2022 ballot, when California voters will decide the law’s fate.

In 2019, Laguna Niguel was the first city in Orange County to ban flavored e-cigarette products.

Mayor Vicente Sarmiento said at Tuesday’s meeting that the advocacy that won the flavored tobacco ban in Santa Ana must also be directed to other cities. He said all kids have to do to get flavored tobacco products is just walk through nearby towns.

“So as far as you accomplish anything here, it’s very limited, unless you get buy-in from other cities,” Sarmiento said.

In 2019, the Food and Drug Administration raised the minimum age for sale of all tobacco products from 18 to 21. The sale of products to minors, flavored or not, is a federal offense.

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