San Diego has officially banned the sale of flavored tobacco products from Jan. 1

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Reinforced e-cigarettes
Selection of flavored e-cigarettes. Provided by San Diegans Vs. Big Tobacco

The San Diego City Council officially passed a resolution on Tuesday ban the sale of flavored tobacco products – including menthol – in the city from January 1, 2023.

This step is led by an advisor Marnie von Wilpert – Adheres to similar actions in cities such as Imperial Beach, Encinitas and Solana Beach, as well as San Diego County for unincorporated areas. It also comes months before a nationwide referendum that will address the issue in November.

The council adopted the issue in first reading in April. This second vote makes the ordinance – known as the Law on the Cessation of Adolescent Addiction to Electronic Cigarettes or the SAAFE Act – a law.

“I thank my colleagues for supporting me to prevent Big Tobacco from getting a whole new generation of young people addicted to tobacco products by formally approving the SAAFE Act,” von Wilpert said. “Flavored tobacco products are intentionally sold to children, and I am proud that our city is taking steps to prevent the sale of these products and protect our youth.”

The ordinance does not apply to the sale of hookahs, premium cigars or loose tobacco and e-cigarettes without fragrance or tobacco, as well as FDA-approved termination devices, which will also be exempt from the ban.

Board member Jennifer Campbell said over 40 years of medicine she has seen an impact on children living in homes with smokers.

“We need to stop Big Tobacco from aggressively attacking our children and vulnerable communities,” she said. “Stopping teens’ dependence on e-cigarettes will help protect our communities from the tobacco industry, which makes lifelong customers addicted to nicotine.”

According to the results presented in April by von Wilpert’s office, in the last completed survey of urban tobacco retailers in 2019, 14.7% of retailers sold to fraudulent police minors. In a future study, she said, those numbers have risen to almost 30%.

At lengthy public hearings in April, dozens of small business owners opposed the law, claiming that flavored tobacco accounted for 25 percent to nearly half of their businesses. Almost all of them claimed to be law-abiding business owners who were appreciated San Diego Police Department for their ground operations. Some also condemned what they called the paternalistic nature of the city council’s new law, saying parents should be responsible for raising children, not the government.

The city’s news service has contributed to this article.

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