City Council to enact limited flavored tobacco ban in Elk Grove

Following a two-hour-plus public hearing during a six-plus hour meeting last night, the Elk Grove City Council decided to create an ordinance banning flavored tobacco in the city. The matter, which will come back to the city council at a future meeting, was initiated last year by Vice Mayor Stephanie Nguyen. 

Before the city council decided to pursue the ban, they heard a staff report and extensive public comment. There were over two dozen speakers. 

Many comments came from gas station operators, tobacco purveyors, and convenience store owners who uniformly opposed the ban, saying it would negatively affect their business, especially amidst the COVD-19 pandemic economic downturn. Several speakers from hookah associations cited not only economic considerations for tobacco sellers but said the ban would be culturally discriminatory to people who use the devices which have been in use for centuries.

While not as numerous as those opposing the ban, several health advocates and high school students urged the city council to legislate the ban. They cited the adverse health effects of tobacco use and studies that show flavored tobaccos have been aimed at youth and act as a gateway for other lifetime tobacco uses.

As a compromise, the city council said menthol tobacco would be exempted from the ban as it is not a flavored product targeting the youth market.   

During the deliberation, Nguyen expressed willingness to compromise but insisted on keeping the flavored products away from children.

"I just want to make sure we get these tutti frutti, rainbow, unicorn flavors of the shelf, " Nguyen said. "I can't image an adult going in and ordering tutti frutti flavor." 

Additionally, the city council extended an existing moratorium on issuing new tobacco retailer licenses until March 2022. The matter will come back to the city council in one of the next two meetings for approval. 

Flavored tobaccos were set to be banned on January 1 after Gov. Gavin Newsome signed Senate Bill 793 last year, but that law is being challenged a voter initiative. In the city's staff report, it was noted that even though there are legal challenges to SB 793, "staff is comfortable that existing state law authorizes the City to enact the proposed ordinance."

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1 comment

D.J. Blutarsky said...

Flavored tobacco...really?

An economic development plan on life support; asphalt crack seal plastered on just about every street in the city; ever-increasing Mello Roos tax assessments putting the squeeze on homeowners; and COVID kicking small businesses and lower wage earners' butts, but we got flavored tobacco covered!

The developer boys in Granite Bay must be sitting back smoking their stogies and laughing their butts off!

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