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Ban on flavored-tobacco sales in San Diego signed into law

Tobacco products with flavors like "blue razz ice" and "aloe grape" are seen here.
Roland Lizarondo
A supporter of San Diego's proposed ban on flavored tobacco products displays vapes with flavors including "blue razz ice" and "aloe grape," April 25, 2022.

Mayor Todd Gloria signed into law Friday a bill that will stop the sale of flavored tobacco in San Diego .

San Diego City Councilwomen Marni von Wilpert and Jennifer Campbell joined San Diego School Board trustees on Friday to announce the Stop Adolescent Addiction to Flavored E-Cigarettes Act was officially signed into law by Gloria.

The City Council approved the SAAFE Act, introduced by von Wilpert, to prohibit the sale of specified flavored tobacco and nicotine products in the city. It targets flavored tobacco and nicotine products that "appeal to children through candy and fruit flavors, as an attempt to hide the harshness of nicotine and as a direct attempt to appeal to a younger audience," von Wilpert said.

"This new law is going to save lives and safeguard children's health," she said. "Our new partnership with San Diego schools will empower parents with vital health resources so we do everything possible to prevent Big Tobacco from hooking our children and hijacking their futures."

School Board Trustees Richard Barrera and Zachary Patterson joined the councilwomen at Friday morning's news conference to educate parents on the dangers of skyrocketing teenage nicotine addiction and highlighted resources to combat youth nicotine use.

"We're so grateful for our partnership with the City Council and mayor in this effort to protect our kids from the predatory strategies of Big Tobacco," Barrera said. "We will work with the city to develop a comprehensive education program for students and parents to protect their physical and mental health from these dangerous products."

The SAAFE Act makes it illegal for any tobacco or electronic cigarette retailer to sell or distribute specified flavored tobacco products, including menthol. The ordinance does not apply to the sale of shisha, premium cigars or loose-leaf tobacco. In addition, unflavored or tobacco flavored e- cigarettes as well as FDA-approved cessation devices will also be exempt.

"The tobacco industry calls these candy-flavored tobacco products, but doctors like me call it poison," Campbell said. "Today, San Diego is scoring a big victory against big tobacco and a big win to protect our children's health. We are stopping the sale of these vile products that lure our children into a life of addiction and starting a true partnership with local schools to more seriously address the youth vaping epidemic."

San Diego joins three states and 335 local governments including Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose with the signing of the law, which will be enforced starting Jan. 1, 2023.

"Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States — and we know Big Tobacco markets these products to young people and other vulnerable communities," said Mayor Todd Gloria. "I'm proud to sign Councilmember von Wilpert's SAAFE Act. Her work and collaboration with Councilmember Dr. Jennifer Campbell will allow us to join 335 other local jurisdictions to regulate the sale of these products, protect our children and stem the tide of addiction."

A statewide measure to ban the sale of specified flavored tobacco products in California will go before the voters this November.