State legislation banning specific tobacco products has stalled. The federal ban is now in limbo. However, local actions to restrict cigarette sales and vaping products have passed in Livermore, Fremont, San Leandro, Alameda, Richmond, and the city and county of San Francisco.
With all members agreeing “waiting is not the answer,” the Dublin City Council on Nov. 19 unanimously voted to have staff return with an ordinance containing language that bans all flavored tobacco products, vaping products and electronic smoking devices. The council also asked for a report listing what further anti-tobacco policies the city should consider acting upon in the future.
Currently, anyone with a tobacco retail license can sell any and all tobacco-containing products regardless of flavor, so long as all existing Dublin regulations are followed. Present law in Dublin only prohibits smoking or vaping in restaurants, businesses, city parks, and other common use areas, and at any city sponsored event.
During public comment, all speakers encouraged the council to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products and vaping devices. Jannell Gladen, of Livermore, showed council members an array of vaping products, stating they were small, disposable and designed to attract kids. “Some of these devices are flavored and can be purchased for as little as 99 cents,” she said.
Dublin resident Margaret Liang, described vaping as a big problem in Dublin schools, with students even vaping in school bathrooms. “A survey of students under 14 years old revealed 45% think that vaping is a big problem in middle school,” she said.
“E-cigarettes contain 10 chemicals listed on Prop 65 known to cause birth and other reproductive harm. We have to look out for our kids,” added Paula Campbell, from Livermore.
The City Council blamed tobacco companies for targeting young people, and said they cannot wait any longer for the state or federal government to take regulatory action.
“What tobacco companies have done in this instance is simply unconscionable,” Councilman Shawn Kumagai said. “They have made these products specifically designed to hook kids.”
And educating youth to the lifelong hazards of tobacco use and vaping is key, Mayor David Haubert said. “Dovetailing messaging about the (dangers) through the schools, outdoor events and the youth advisory council is needed,” he said.
Nationally, as of Nov. 21, there have been 2,290 cases of lung injuries caused by vaping, and a death toll of 47. The numbers rise weekly, and many of the deaths are suspected to be connected to vitamin E acetate, often found in vaping capsules containing THC.