Sonoma Becomes The First US City To Ban E-liquid Flavors
In an effort to diminish underage smoking, Sonoma California is the first US city to ban the sales of e-liquid flavors and flavored tobacco. In a unanimous vote last week, Sonoma’s councilmembers approved a law that will ban new businesses from selling flavored tobacco products like cigarettes, cigars, hookah shisha, chewing tobacco and others. But the council has also lumped e-liquid flavors into the ban too, essentially equating e-liquid with tobacco.
This new regulation will also require that their city’s established tobacco retailers pay for a license for $246 a year. This money will be used to fund a decoy sting program that will be run by Police Chief Bret Sackett and the sheriff’s deputies.
During the first reading of the measure, the council heard from a group of 20 people regarding the issue. A few of them were e-cigarette and tobacco retailers from all over Northern California. They all debated that it was unjust for the council to tie e-cigarettes in with other tobacco products and restrict their ability to sell them to adults in their town. The council merely argued back noting that they wanted the devices off of shelves due to their purported growing popularity among the youth of Sonoma.
Pam Granger, senior advocacy manager for the American Lung Association in California noted that Sonoma’s new law would make it much harder for children to obtain tobacco products.
“The consequences of not protecting kids from tobacco products are too great when 34,400 youth in California become smokers each year and more high schoolers are using electronic cigarettes than traditional cigarettes,” Granger pointed out in an email.
Tobacco and e-cigarette retailers argued that the new measure is unfair and merely punishes store owners who already comply with state and federal rules and regulations and don’t sell tobacco to minors. Opponents of the measure also feel that passing such a law is contradictory to their efforts to curb underage smoking.
Since it will effectively ban e-liquids, which contain no tobacco and leaves only cigarettes as a viable option for use. Not only that, this measure will make it more difficult for adult smokers in Sonoma to switch to vaping in an effort to get away from tobacco cigarettes.
With the unanimous vote from the council during the first reading, it seems very unlikely that the members will change their minds on the regulation when it comes for a second vote sometime this month. If voted in, the measure will take effect September 1, 2015.