New San Diego City Ordinance Bans Sale Of Flavored Tobacco Products

Written by Sasha Reva

A new ordinance on flavored tobacco products including menthol was passed this Monday by the San Diego Council. It will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2023.

Some cities such as Solana Beach, Imperial Beach, Encinitas and the County of San Diego have already taken similar actions and ordinances. 

“Candy flavored tobacco products are intentionally marketed to kids, and today, the San Diego City Council took bold action to prevent the sale of these products and protect our youth.” “I thank my colleagues for standing with me to stop Big Tobacco from getting an entire new generation of youth addicted to tobacco products,” said City Councilwoman Marni Von Wilpert. 

This ordinance applies only to flavored tobacco products, however, not the premium cigars or loose-leaf tobacco and unflavored or tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes etc.

There were hundreds of speakers who spent about five hours convincing the city council and received a vote of 7-2 in favor of the ban. Groups such as American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society and Kaiser Permanente were presenting in favor of the ban. Even Councilwoman Jennifer Campbell said that in her 40 years of practicing medicine, there was a big impact on children who lived in homes with smokers.

“If it doesn’t get done at a local level, it will not get done,” she said. “We have to help protect our people.”

There was a study on the city’s tobacco retailers in 2019 and about 14.7% of retailers sold to an underage police decoy. As of now, the numbers are increasing every day and it is about 30% more now.

Due to the future loss of income, Councilman Joe LaCava proposed to look for a remedy for businesses because it is going to impact their business since it’s “legal today and illegal tomorrow.”

“This will significantly impact small business owners and their employees and their families.” “I hope to work with store owners to track the impact of this measure.”

Just two Councilmembers, Chris Cate and Vivian Moreno voted no on this ordinance. Moreno believed it made little sense to pass a local ordinance just months before the voters of California would decide in the November election. 

Cate believed the ban would not prevent youth from illegally buying and using tobacco products, but bring them back to cigarettes. “It is wrong to believe that this is the silver bullet we have been looking for,” he said. Cate also pointed out that the city just passed a reduction in taxes for cannabis businesses which shows favoritism of one industry.  

Photo Cred: Richard B. Levine, Alamy