The Sacramento City Council on Tuesday night approved a ban on the sale of flavored tobacco, a move championed by local physicians who say the products target children.
"The Council recognized that harmful and addictive tobacco products should not be sold in candy, fruit and other appealing flavors that entice kids into a lifetime of addiction," said Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids president Matthew Myers in a written statement. "We thank those who have led and supported the Sacramento effort, including Mayor Darrell Steinberg, Council Members Steve Hansen and Angelique Ashby."
This action by the City of Sacramento comes at the same time a bill to ban flavored tobacco statewide is moving through the California Legislature.
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said flavored cigars have proliferated in recent years and become popular with younger people, while more than half of those youth smokers, including seven out of ten African-American youth smokers, smoke menthol cigarettes. The menthol soothes the throat and reduces irritation from tobacco smoke.
However, not everyone agrees that a local or a statewide ban is a good idea. There were pleas at the Tuesday council meeting from local smoke shop and convenience store owners like Noorddin Kachhi.
"I really beg for mercy from you all," Kachhi told the City Council. "We will lose everything we have worked hard for. We can not survive the flavor ban."
The ban was approved on 7-to-1 vote.
Councilman Larry Carr voted against the ban, while Councilman Allen Warren was not at the meeting.
The ordinance will not result in the closure of any of the hundreds of tobacco retailers, according to city officials.
But if a retailer expands the number of flavored tobacco products on their shelves or quits selling tobacco products for more than 60 days, they will likely loose their license and be closed down. Any licenses revoked will not be reissued to new retailers wanting to sell tobacco products.
This ban probably will have an affect the city's bottom line with the loss of as much as two million dollars in revenue from retailers forced out of business.