Last night, the city of Berkeley, California, became the latest community to end the sale of flavored tobacco products at all retailers, including menthol cigarettes and flavored vaping products. The City Council voted to unanimously approve the second reading of the ordinance, which will go into effect in six months. Since January 2017, Berkeley has prohibited the sale of flavored tobacco products within a 600 foot buffer zone around schools.
After hearing from community members and tobacco control partners about the need to take stronger action to reduce access to the flavored products that are hooking young people to nicotine addiction, the City Council decided the time was right to expand the law to apply equally to all retailers throughout the city.
Berkeley’s new law also sets a minimum pack size of twenty little cigars and six cigars, and a minimum price of $8 per pack of cigarettes and little cigars. This success is thanks to great coalition work and involvement from many tobacco control partners, especially the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council. Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights (ANR), American Heart Association, and other coalition partners have voiced support and countered opposition arguments throughout the process.
Also last night, the city of Richmond, California, became the third city after San Francisco and Livermore to end the sale of all vaping products that do not have FDA approval. The City Council voted unanimously to take this action, which expands upon the law the city enacted in July 2018 to end the sale of all flavored tobacco products.
ANR applauds Berkeley and Richmond for continuing to be national leaders in tobacco control by putting the health of their communities ahead of tobacco industry profits.
Berkeley and Richmond’s actions took place just before today’s announcement by the White House that the FDA will develop a plan to end the sale of flavored vaping products. A Health and Human Services statement says, “the FDA intends to finalize a compliance policy in the coming weeks that would prioritize the agency’s enforcement of the premarket authorization requirements for non-tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes, including mint and menthol, clearing the market of unauthorized, non-tobacco-flavored e-cigarette products.”
Today’s announcement is very welcome, but the regulation would not extend to menthol cigarettes or other flavored non-vaping tobacco products, and the reality is that FDA regulations take many years to come to fruition. Likewise, we can expect federal regulations to face years of delay due to interference and legal action by the tobacco and vaping industries. In the meantime, communities should continue to take local action by adopting strong regulations that apply to all flavored tobacco products and can save lives now.
List of municipalities that have restricted the sale of flavored tobacco.
Washington Post: Trump Moves to Ban Flavored E-Cigarettes
New York Times: Trump Administration Weighs Ban on Flavored E-Cigarettes
ANR Foundation: Fourth Confirmed Death Due to Severe Lung Illness Resulting from use of Electronic Smoking Devices
ANR Foundation: JUUL LIES