SD City Council Bans Sale of Flavored Tobacco — Effective Jan. 1, 2023

E-cigarettes with flavor
A selection of scented e-cigarettes. Courtesy of San Diegans vs. Big Tobacco

The San Diego Council issued a decree Monday headed by councilor Marni von Wilpert ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products – including menthol – in the city, effective from 1 January 2023.

The move follows similar actions in local cities such as Imperial Beach, Encinitas and Solana Beach, along with San Diego County for non-integrated areas. It also comes months before a nationwide referendum to address the issue in November.

For von Wilpert, the decree could not wait until the general election. He presented reports with thousands of signatures from local high school students supporting the decree, many of whom would not be old enough to vote in the November referendum.

“Caramel-flavored tobacco products are deliberately marketed to children and today, the San Diego City Council took bold action to prevent the sale of these products and to protect our youth,” he said. “I thank my colleagues who stood by me to stop Big Tobacco from addicting a whole new generation of young people to tobacco products.”

The decree does not apply to the sale of hookahs, premium cigars or loose-fitting tobacco and flavored or tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes, as well as FDA-approved smoking cessation devices that will also be exempt from the ban.

Hundreds of speakers spent nearly five hours trying to persuade the city council – which voted 7-2 in favor of the ban – in one way or another. Some of the groups that presented their case for the ban were the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society and the Kaiser Permanente. City Councilwoman Jennifer Campbell said in her 40 years in medicine, she had seen the impact on children living in smoking homes.

“If it is not done locally, it will not be done,” he said. “We must help protect our people.”

According to the findings he presented von Wilpert’s office, in the most recent comprehensive survey of the city’s tobacco retailers in 2019, 14.7% of retailers sold to a minor police bait. In a follow-up study, he said, those numbers have risen to almost 30%.

Dozens of small business owners opposed the law, claiming that scented tobacco accounted for somewhere between 25% and almost half of their business. Almost all of them claimed to be law-abiding business owners who had been praised by the San Diego Police Department for their business. Many also denounced the paternalistic nature of the new city council law, saying parents should be responsible for how children are raised and not the government.

In response to the loss of income, consultant Joe LaCava said he wanted to find a solution for businesses selling a product that was “legal today and illegal tomorrow.”

“I would ask our Sacramento liaisons to find a way to relieve these small businesses,” he said.

With him at the funeral were Council President Sean Elo-Rivera and Councilor Steven Whitburn.

“This will have a significant impact on small business owners and their employees and their families,” Whitburn said. “I hope to work with shop owners to monitor the impact of this measure.”

Council members Chris Kate and Vivian Moreno were the two abstentions in the decree, although they cited different reasons.

For Moreno, he said he believed it made no sense to pass a local ordinance a few months before California voters decided in the November election. He said a much more effective strategy would be to increase enforcement of existing laws instead of adding more regulation to small businesses. He asked the SDPD to present an enforcement plan on the issue.

Kate said she believed the ban would not prevent young people from buying and consuming illegal tobacco products, but would lead them back to traditional cigarettes, the use of which has declined in younger generations over the past decade.

“It’s wrong to think this is the silver bullet we were looking for,” he said.

He also noted the hypocrisy of banning a legal product when the city council had previously reduced taxes on cannabis businesses, sending a message to small businesses that the city was clearly favoring one another.

City Councilwoman Monica Montgomery Steppe supported the decree not only in terms of public health but also in terms of racial justice. He said large tobacco companies have targeted the black community with menthol for decades, with black smokers preferring menthol-flavored cigarettes 85% of the time.

“We can invoke institutional racism without calling anyone a racist,” he said.

Another aspect of the decree passed Monday was the official updating of the San Diego codes to change the age of sale of tobacco products from 18 to 21. Although then the Governor. Jerry Brown raised the state’s selling age to 21 in 2016, San Diego had not updated its laws since.

The City News Service contributed to this article.

SD City Council Bans Sale of Flavored Tobacco — Effective Jan. 1, 2023 Source link SD City Council Bans Sale of Flavored Tobacco — Effective Jan. 1, 2023

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