San José to become largest city in California to ban flavored tobacco


San José is fast becoming the largest city in California to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products and to ban smoking inside apartments.

At a rally outside San Jose City Hall on Monday, Mayor Sam Liccardo and four of the city council members said it was “high time” for the city to enact these laws and protect young people from the city of enticing flavors of fruit, mint and candied. . The entire city council, made up of 11 members, will vote on the proposed measures on Tuesday.

“We know better,” Liccardo said at the rally. “And we just need to make sure our young people are protected so that they have the ability, as adults, to make good health choices that they will not regret decades from now.”

Under the first ordinance, San José would ban the sale of flavored tobacco, including menthol products, throughout the city and ban new tobacco retailers from opening a store within 500 feet of another tobacco retailer. and within 1000 feet of a school, park, community center or library. . Tobacco retailers will have six months to exhaust the newly banned products. The city is currently home to more than 650 tobacco retailers.

A separate ordinance would ban smoking of all kinds – including cigarettes, cigars, e-cigarettes, vapers and cannabis products – in the majority of multi-family housing complexes in the city. The regulation would apply to any dwelling with three or more dwellings. Duplexes, condominiums and hotels and motels would be exempt. The proposed ordinance goes beyond current municipal bylaws which currently only ban smoking in public and common areas of multi-family dwellings.

A survey of 1,442 San José residents last October found that around 69% of those polled supported a ban on smoking inside apartments and townhouses, with most saying have been exposed to second-hand smoke entering their units in the past 30 days, according to the city’s code enforcement department.

Tuesday’s vote will culminate years of work by San José leaders to put these regulations on the books. The council was originally scheduled to vote on the flavored tobacco ban in June, but the council delayed the vote, in part because of the tobacco industry’s lobbying efforts.

Supporters hope the new measures will reduce the negative effects of passive smoking and prevent more children in San José from becoming addicted to flavored tobacco.

The tobacco industry has a stronghold on our children – enticing them with flavor and leading them to a life of addiction,” City Councilor Magdalena Carrasco, a champion of the proposed ban, said on Monday. “Banana split, Kool-aid, Hawaiian punch, gummy bears – all of those e-cigarette flavors might taste like candy, but it’s poison to our kids.”

Carrasco added that she was particularly concerned that the tobacco industry is targeting black and Latino residents of San José.

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill last year to ban the sale of most flavored tobacco products statewide, but the tobacco industry quickly responded with a referendum campaign, which suspended ban until voters decide to pass it in 2022. If approved, the statewide ban would then replace similar municipal ordinances, although cities can implement stricter laws.

More than 100 cities across California, including San Francisco, Oakland and about half of the cities in Santa Clara County, have already enacted their own bans.

According to a survey conducted last month for the organization San Jose Fights Flavors, 73% of San Jose residents also support a city ban on flavored tobacco. The results were based on interviews with nearly 600 votes cast in San José at the end of August. The study’s margin of error was 4.4%, according to FM3 investigators.

City Councilor Pam Foley said Monday it was high time San Jose joined other cities in California to “protect our youth and our future.”

“We need to make it as difficult as possible for the sellers and creators of these potentially deadly products to get these devices that can be as small as a USB flash drive into the hands of our children,” she said.

Despite the overwhelming support of city leaders, tobacco retailers are not so enthusiastic about the proposed ban on the sale of flavored tobacco. Another recent poll conducted by the city found that more than 80% of retailers opposed the proposed settlement.

One such opponent is Haron Rhamti, the owner of Smoke Shop in East San Jose. Selling flavored tobacco products makes up about 80% of his monthly income, he said, and he doesn’t think his sales lead children to become addicted to the products.

Rhamti checks the IDs of every person who walks into his store to make sure they are over 21, he said. If they aren’t, he tells them to leave the store.

“I don’t want to lose my license for $ 1 or $ 2 of profit,” he said, adding that he thought miners would just keep buying the products online.

“The pandemic has hit us before, so banning this flavor ban means we’ll likely have to shut down the business.

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