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The city’s ordinance seeks to prevent youth from “simply switch(ing) to disposable e-cigarettes.” Courtesy photo
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Solana Beach bans flavored tobacco products

SOLANA BEACH — In response to the rising popularity of flavored e-cigarettes, the Solana Beach City Council passed an ordinance on April 8, banning the sale and distribution of flavored tobacco products in the city.

The ordinance will prohibit the sale of flavored cigars, cigarillos, smokeless tobacco, shisha (hookah tobacco) and the liquid nicotine cartridges used in electronic cigarettes – the use of which is commonly referred to as “vaping.” The ban will take effect in about seven months.

The Food and Drug Administration took action early this year to stop the sale and distribution of flavored e-cigarette products that are directly marketed to youngsters, particularly those flavored to taste like fruit or candy.

However, the policy did not ban disposable cartridges, or tobacco or menthol-flavored e-cigarettes. The city’s ordinance seeks to prevent youth from “simply switch(ing) to disposable e-cigarettes,” according to the staff report.

A dozen “speakers” wrote in to opine on the issue — the city council meeting was conducted virtually due to the constraints of the COVID-19 crisis. Most of the comments were in favor, including those of several locals who have long spoken out against the use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco among area youth.

A few letters sent in from out-of-town organizations addressed the potential negative financial impacts on local convenience stores, particularly in conjunction with revenue drops related to the COVID-19 crisis.

City Manager Greg Wade said that city staff reached out to area businesses that stood to be affected by the ordinance and said that none expressed “outright opposition.”

“I think there was just some question as to whether or not there’d be a grace period…so that they could stop their orders, get rid of existing stock and just stop selling flavored tobacco products,” Wade said.

City Councilwoman Kristi Becker said she was more swayed by the letters written by locals, which were all in support of council approval. She added that stores will have seven months to adjust to the ban.

“That gives enough time for the local stores to not only deplete their stock but hopefully get back to recovery from this emergency period,” she said.

Becker mentioned that the ban “is needed much more now” due to the COVID-19 crisis, and the potential added risk that respiratory problems might pose if someone were to catch the virus.

The ordinance complements existing rules in the city, that bar smoking and the use of e-cigarettes in certain local areas.