SAN FRANCISCO – The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a bill that forbids the sale of flavored tobacco products in retail stores, the San Francisco Examiner reports. The ban encompasses flavored chewing tobacco, flavored liquids containing nicotine for e-cigarettes and menthol cigarettes.
“We want to enhance our prevention strategies,” Supervisor Maila Cohen, who introduced the legislation, said. “The goal of this ordinance is to keep people from smoking in the first place.
The ban, which will go into effect April 2018, will impact more than 700 local retailers, mostly convenience stores and gas stations, that sell tobacco products. To counter the lost revenue, Cohen supports more city funding under the Healthy Food Retail program to assist small stores during the transition.
The California Retailers Association opposed the ban because it failed to take into consideration how it would affect businesses and the decrease in the amount of sales tax the city collects. “This ordinance also ignores the fact that there are comprehensive state and local laws, that anti-tobacco advocates support as a means to curb youth access to tobacco, that are currently enforced,” wrote Angie Manetti, director of government relations for the association in a June 8 letter to the board.
The ordinance would not prohibit the use of flavored tobacco in the city. The City Controller’s Office of Economic Analysis estimated that 35% of cigarettes sold in the city are menthols, which will translate into lost sales of around $50 million yearly.
The Minneapolis City Council is also considering a ban on the sale of menthol cigarettes, having already prohibited the same of flavored tobacco products two years ago.