It will soon be illegal to sell flavored e-cigarette cartridges, menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products in Sacramento’s city limits.
The Sacramento City Council voted 7-1 Tuesday to approve the flavor ban, which will go in to effect Jan. 1.
Councilman Larry Carr voted against the ban.
“I do not believe the only way to restrict access to these products in Sacramento is to completely ban them,” Carr said.
Councilman Allen Warren was absent, but Councilwoman Angelique Ashby said he supports the ban.
Public health advocates applauded the ban, saying e-cigarettes are increasingly getting teens addicted to nicotine as a gateway to cigarettes. Vape shop owners argued the ban will force them to close, and former smokers said the ban will make it much harder to purchase a useful tool they need to quit smoking cigarettes.
The ordinance will not require any of Sacramento’s roughly 383 tobacco retailers to close, said Jose Mendez, the city’s code enforcement manager.
The city will close shops that increase their inventory of flavored tobacco products, stop selling tobacco products for more than 60 days, or fail to renew their licenses, however, Mendez said. If the city closes shops for those reasons, those licenses will not be issued to new shops. No new tobacco retailers will be allowed to open within 1,000 feet of another one.
Although the city will not close existing tobacco shops, several vape shop owners said a flavor ban will cause them to lose so much business they will be forced to close.
Noor Kachhi, owner of Cloud 9 vape shop in Natomas, said the flavor ban will cause his business to lose 85 percent of his business, cause him to go in to bankruptcy, and maybe even lose his home. He has five years left on his lease, with a personal guarantee, he said.
“I stand in front of you today begging for mercy,” Kachhi told the council. “We cannot survive the flavor ban. I humbly urge you all to exempt vape shops from this ban.”
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