Monday, September 28, 2020     Volume: 21, Issue: 30

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on December 10th, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 20, Issue 41 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 20, Issue 41

County bans flavored tobacco products

By Zac Ezzone

In an attempt to curb the number of kids using electronic cigarettes or vaping, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voted to prohibit businesses from selling flavored tobacco products in unincorporated parts of the county.

This move comes amid nationwide concerns over how vaping affects a person’s health have begun to intensify. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of Dec. 3, almost 2,300 cases of lung injury related to vaping were reported to the agency, and 48 people have died.

Although state law prohibits anybody younger than 21 from purchasing tobacco products, the number of kids vaping continues to increase. Prior to the board approving the ban at its Dec. 10 meeting, Shantal Hover, with the county’s tobacco prevention program, said that locally the percentage of kids vaping almost doubled between 2016 and 2018.

Hover said vaping products come in more than 15,500 flavors, such as apple juice and peanut butter cup, which are enticing to kids. In addition to lung damage, these vaping products have high concentrations of nicotine, which can alter brain function. 

“Our concern is that young people are being introduced to high amounts of nicotine, developing a tolerance quickly and becoming addicted as a result,” Hover said. 

The board approved this ban with a 4-1 vote. Fourth District Supervisor Peter Adam—the lone no vote—said he fully supports banning flavored tobacco products for vaping, but disagreed with banning certain traditional tobacco products, such as menthol cigarettes or flavored cigars.

“I think that this is a bit of an overreach,” Adam said. “If it was really just about the vaping, I would be inclined to support it, but since it goes off into things that are traditionally legal and normal and customary, I don’t think I’m going to be able to support it.”

This expansive ban is similar to the one the Santa Maria City Council approved during a meeting on Nov. 25. Hover said cities in Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties have already passed or are considering similar bans. 

“We’re looking at a comprehensive ban of these products across our Central Coast region,” Hover said.

Critics of these bans claim that vaping is a less harmful alternative to smoking cigarettes. While discussing Santa Maria’s ban with the Sun in November, Huey Doan, who runs Sector Vape on Main Street, said he’s concerned the prohibition of flavored products will cause adults to turn back to smoking cigarettes. Instead, Doan said, jurisdictions should focus on enforcing the state’s age limit for smoking.

“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.” 

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