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Santa Maria Sun / Spotlight

The following article was posted on November 25th, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 20, Issue 39 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 20, Issue 39

Santa Maria bans flavored tobacco amid national concerns over vaping

By ZAC EZZONE

In an attempt to curb the number of kids using electronic cigarettes or vaping, Santa Maria has banned businesses in the city from selling flavored tobacco products starting next July.


FLAVOR BAN
The Santa Maria City Council recently voted to outlaw the sale of flavored tobacco products within the city starting next July.
PHOTO BY ZAC EZZONE

While the main target of the move is the assortment of flavors vape shops sell for e-cigarettes that officials say kids find appealing, the measure also prohibits the sale of menthol cigarettes and other flavored products, such as chewing tobacco and cigars. The Santa Maria City Council unanimously approved the expansive measure at a meeting on Nov. 19.

Huey Doan and KT Silva, who run Sector Vape on Main Street, told the Sun that this ban would affect all items that they sell, but that they aren’t concerned about how it’ll affect profits at this point. Doan said he’s more worried about how this ban will affect customers who’ve turned to vaping as an alternative to smoking cigarettes. 

At a time where vaping is on the rise, the number of U.S. adults who smoke cigarettes is at the lowest point it’s ever been. In a Nov. 14 news release, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that last year 13.7 percent of U.S. adults reported smoking cigarettes.

But throughout this year, nationwide concerns over how vaping affects a person’s health have begun to intensify. According to the CDC, as of Nov. 20, almost 2,300 cases of lung injury related to vaping were reported to the agency, and 47 people have died. The CDC identified vitamin E acetate, which is used as a thickening agent in THC-containing vaping products, as a potential source of these issues. 

Santa Maria Public Information Manager Mark van de Kamp said this ban appeared on the council’s agenda partially as a result of these nationwide concerns. Other nearby cities have adopted similar bans, and the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors will consider a like-minded measure in December. 

Doan and Silva said that instead of implementing these bans, the city and county should monitor and crack down on vape shops selling to underage kids. State law prohibits anybody younger than 21 from purchasing tobacco products, including those used for vaping.

“If there is a law, it should be enforced, and they aren’t enforcing it,” Doan said. “They’re just going with the easy route and banning it.” 

While kids may find the flavors appealing, adults do as well. Doan is concerned that banning these flavors could lead some people back to smoking cigarettes. 

Resident Ron Rich, a former smoker who has vaped for 10 years, echoed this sentiment during the public comment period of the council’s November meeting. 

“Banning the flavors takes everybody here that vapes and puts cigarettes back in our hands,” Rich said.

At the November meeting, City Attorney Thomas Watson said having this ban take effect next July gives the city time to educate the community and affected business owners of the change. The measure also creates a tobacco-licensing program that businesses must abide by, which gives the city more regulatory control.

Highlights:

• The Santa Maria Public Library Bookstore, located in the lobby of the library, is holding a holiday book sale from Dec. 2 through 31. Customers who purchase a book during the sale will get a second book for free.

• Demolition work on the old pool at the Lompoc Civic Center began on Nov. 6 and should be completed next February. The pool has remained out of use since 2000 as the state of the building made it unsafe and too costly to fix. m

Staff Writer Zac Ezzone wrote this week’s Spotlight. Send news tips to spotlight@santamariasun.com.




Weekly Poll
Guadalupe is in the midst of new development, but is that a good thing?

No. The new homes will expand the town too much and run the small-town vibe.
No. Commercial development will follow and destroy all the local businesses.
Yes. The town can't survive another economic downturn without more business and residents in town.
Yes, but the town has to steer development toward tourism and the hospitality industry.

| Poll Results