Orinda – Orinda has become the last city in the Gulf region to ban the sale of flavored tobacco and all vaping products.
The municipal council voted unanimously to adopt the ban on Tuesday’s meeting. According to the ordinance, the ban aims to discourage smoking among minors who are more attracted to flavored tobacco, studies show. Four out of five young adults aged 18 to 24 who have used tobacco say they used it for the first time with a flavored product, according to the Truth Initiative, a non-profit public health organization.
“Cancer just attacks anyone it can get its hands on, so I think we need to be very aware that these can be dangerous products,” said Mayor Dennis Faye. “I think it’s important for us to keep doing this.”
Menthol cigarettes are also included in the ban.
City staff do not have data on the percentage of smoking among young people in Orinda, but according to Contra Costa Health Services, the total percentage of smokers in the county is 10%, lower than the national average of 12.5%.
After the ban takes effect in June, Orinda will rely on the seven affected businesses to comply voluntarily. However, traders who continue to sell flavored tobacco or vaping products can be cited. City manager David Biggs wrote in an email that companies in Orinda usually comply with cases like this.
Council member Nick Cosla was hesitant about the ban, but ultimately voted in favor of the ban.
“My only concern is to tell the business what they can sell, but in my research I noticed that most of the adults in this city who use tobacco products in all these cases were not flavored tobacco,” Cosla said.
The nearby Lafayette banned flavored tobacco products three years ago, and Walnut Creek issued a ban last November.
The ban on the sale of vaping products is a bit rarer. Walnut Creek also banned them in November, becoming the first city in Contra Costa to do so.
However, Moraga does not ban flavored tobacco or vaping products.
California has also made its move in this arena – in 2020, lawmakers passed a law banning the sale of flavored tobacco in the state. However, the law has been suspended pending the outcome of a referendum to ban flavored tobacco products in California, which could repeal the law if enough voters vote against on November 8.
This is a controversial topic, with no shortage of money being thrown at both sides. Those who want to repeal legislation across the country have raised $ 21.16 million, while those who support the ban have raised $ 2.7 million.
Thomas Sloton, a government spokesman for hookah maker Fumari, told the council that many minority communities have used hookahs for centuries culturally and called for the use of hookahs to be an exception to the ban.
“We express our gratitude and show our support for action against the epidemic of nicotine addiction among young people,” he said. “Please do not apply an ordinance in the process that criminalizes the rich, cultural tradition of the hookah.”
However, the council continued with the ban, including the hookah. In an email, Biggs noted that none of Orinda’s tobacco retailers currently sell hookah products.