An end to the sale of flavored tobacco in the city of San Diego is in reach, much to the relief of school districts, youth-serving organizations, health practitioners, and parents.
The SAAFE Act, introduced by Councilmember Marni von Wilpert, will end the sale of youth-targeted flavored vapes, flavored cigarillos, and menthol cigarettes if adopted.
Hookah, premium flavored cigars, flavored loose-leaf tobacco, and non-flavored tobacco products will remain on store shelves.
The San Diego City Council will take up the ordinance on Monday, April 25, and observers anticipate an active meeting.
The local tobacco industry’s lobbying arm, the Neighborhood Market Association, has been vocal in opposition to the ordinance, as sweet, fruity and minty flavors work to hook the next generation of tobacco users. They have previously cited research from a San Francisco study, falsely indicating that removing flavored vapes from the retail setting pushes youth to use cigarettes instead.
Jonathan Winickoff, director of pediatric research at Massachusetts General Hospital’s distinguished Tobacco Research & Treatment Center, reviewed the study and disagrees. He notes that the study was completed before enforcement of San Francisco’s flavored tobacco ban had taken full effect — only 17% of retailers were compliant at the time of the study –- thus invalidating the analysis.
Winickoff and his colleagues cite data from Oakland that found regular cigarette use decreased after flavored tobacco restrictions, and even more importantly, point to research demonstrating that total tobacco use by young people aged 18-24 decreased by nearly 18% after San Francisco’s flavored tobacco sales restrictions.
Cynthia Knapp and Jim Crittenden – Times of San Diego – 2022-04-25.