City Council approves flavored tobacco ban

Pushing back against protests from the vape industry and local merchants, the Sacramento City Council passed a ban on flavored e-cigarette cartridges and other flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, within city limits starting January 1, 2020.

On Tuesday, April 16, a 7-1 vote outlawed all candy- and fruit-flavored e-juices such as “Gummy Bear” or “Unicorn Pop!” commonly used in vape devices and quite popular among youth.

“We’ve got really powerful testimony from members of our community who say they are being targeted, that they are disproportionately affected,” said Councilman Steve Hansen.

“Evidence has shown that flavored tobacco products lure kids into smoking tobacco,” Councilman Eric Guerra wrote SN&R in an email. “What the council is banning directly leads to addiction in children.”

The flavor ban was combined with a reform of the city’s tobacco retail licensing policy to reduce the disproportionate licensing of tobacco stores “that congregate in places where people are vulnerable,” Hansen said.

But not everyone was in favor of the ban.

“History has taught us that prohibition does not work. What does work is education,” said Councilman Larry Carr, the only “no” vote on the measure.

Local tobacco distributor Samarjit Malmi also spoke against the proposal, telling the council that tobacco stores work to keep out minors. He cited a California Department of Public Health report that found a reduction in tobacco sales to minors, from 10.3% in 2016 to 5.7% in 2017.

At Tonic Vape and Smoke on Fulton Avenue, just outside the city limits, owner Samer Mansour said the ban will penalize adults for youth behavior and the sins of tobacco companies.


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