Los Angeles has become one of the latest cities to enforce legislation involving the sale of flavored tobacco products and electronic cigarettes used for vaping.
In a unanimous vote, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol, during a board meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 1.
The legislation will require tobacco retailers to obtain new licenses necessary under the ordinance as well as remove all tobacco products off of the sales floor.
This comes consequently to the recent vaping related deaths and illnesses reported all over the United States, one being in Los Angeles County.
“The proposed ordinance today builds on a set of successful strategies that the board has passed to reduce youth access to dangerous products, and to address the detrimental impact associated with overproliferation of certain establishments in our neighborhoods,” Department of Public Health director, Barbara Ferrer said during the meeting.
Though described as a “vaping epidemic among youth” by Ferrer, dozens of vaping advocates and business owners disagreed with the ban.
Alex Kauffman spoke during the meeting and said “banning flavored e-liquid makes as much sense as banning alcohol or tobacco.”
“We have an obligation to protect from financial hardship compliant, law-abiding, taxpaying small [businesses] that serve the needs of local adult residents,” Kauffman added.
Similarly, long-time smoker, Daniel Nowell told the board how smoke-free alternatives helped him stop smoking cigarettes.
“After trying to quit cigarettes for nearly 10 years, vaping is the only method that worked for me,” Nowell said. “The number one reason why I decided to make the switch was because of the flavors that were available to me.”
Hookah bar and Persian restaurant owner, Bobby Habibi shared that the ban would negatively impact not only his business but his staff members as well.
“This would be devastating to all my staff, the people that have worked for me for 19 years. It would be devastating to the distributors, the meat guy, the produce guy, the surrounding businesses that profit off me,” Habibi said.
Under the new ordinance, the business license for tobacco and e-cigarette retailers will cost $778 for two years and $142 to renew the license for an additional two years.
Despite the physical ban, online sales will not be impacted by the new ordinance, according to senior assistant county counsel, Judy Whitehurst.
Lung-related illnesses have been a key factor in vaping product restrictions in states including Washington, New York and Rhode Island. Starting Oct. 15, Oregon will ban all flavored vaping products for six months.
“Recently, the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] has reported 530 cases of people experiencing a sudden and severe lung illness associated with vaping across more than 33 states and one US territory,” Ferrer said.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, the National Youth Tobacco Survey concluded that more than a quarter of high school students had used e-cigarette products in the past 30 days.
In September the Trump administration began preparing for a ban on flavored e-cigarettes to combat the illnesses associated with the product.
“The Trump Administration is making it clear that we intend to clear the market of flavored e-cigarettes to reverse the deeply concerning epidemic of youth e-cigarette use that is impacting children, families, schools and communities,” said US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar in a statement.
On Wednesday, Melania Trump hosted a group of nine teenagers in the White House’s Blue Room for a listening session to hear about how vaping has affected their lives.
According to Azar, a final plan of action regarding flavored tobacco products would take “several weeks.”