If you’re looking for a cherry cigarillo or menthol cigarette in San Francisco next April, you won’t be able to find one.
Why? The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved legislation that prohibits retialers from selling flavored tobacco products. Banned products include menthol cigarettes, flavored chewing tobacco and flavored liquids containing nicotine used in electronic cigarettes, according to the San Francisco Examiner.
People can still use flavored tobacco products in San Francisco, since the legislation only bans the sale of flavored tobacco products, according to the Examiner.
Matthew L. Myers, the president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said in statement that the products disproportionately affect African-American youth. Seven out of 10 African-American youth smokers smoke menthol cigarettes, according to Myers’ statement.
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San Francisco Supervisor Malia Cohen, the legislation’s sponsor told the San Francisco Chronicle that flavored tobacco hooks new smokers and turns them into lifelong users.
“For too many years, the tobacco industry has gotten a pass as it selectively targets our communities with products that have been deceptively associated with fruits, mints and candy,” Cohen told the Chronicle. “Big tobacco loves vulnerable populations. They advertise 10 times more in black neighborhoods, and market gummy bears and cotton candy flavors near schools and in the LGBT community. ... It’s done with intent and malice.”
San Francisco isn’t the first city to implement a measure like this. Santa Clara County banned the products in October and Berkeley and Chicago have banned sales of the products around schools. Oakland is looking at implementing a similar measure, according to the Chronicle.
Small businesses heavily opposed the measure. Owners of corner stores in San Francisco argued that flavored tobacco products are an anchor product that gets customers in their stores, according to the Chronicle.
Cohen addressed business concerns by proposing that the legislation go into effect in April 2018 instead of January. She also said she would support increased city funding to help small stores adjust their business models under the Healthy Food Retail program, according to the Examiner.