The San José City Council’s unanimous action last fall to ban flavored vaping and other tobacco product sales will soon take effect. Starting July 1, 2022, the sale of flavored tobacco within the City of San José, California is prohibited, as outlined in the city’s Tobacco Retail Ordinance.
“The ban applies to any tobacco products with an artificial flavor, natural flavor, aroma, herb or spice, including — but not limited to — cherry, chocolate, cinnamon, clove, cocoa, coconut, coffee, grape, licorice, menthol, mint, orange, pineapple, strawberry, vanilla, and other flavors,” according to press release. “This includes products where such flavors characterize the smoke or vapor produced by the tobacco product.”
Certain products are exempted from the ban, including shisha, hookah, and premium cigars.
The City’s Code Enforcement Division, which oversees tobacco retailers in San José, will enforce the ban. Sellers of the banned products, after June 30, 2022, could be fined up to $2,500 per day and/or have their tobacco license revoked.
“The tobacco industry has targeted youth with these colorful, flavored tobacco products, leading to an alarming rise in tobacco use among youth. We are proud to put the health of our youth first with these prohibitions,” said Mayor Sam Liccardo.
“Studies show that more than 80 percent of minors and young adults report that flavored tobacco was their first use of a tobacco product,” said Chris Burton, director of the Planning, Building and Code Enforcement Department. “This ordinance update to ban the sale of flavored tobacco and other steps can greatly help minimize access to tobacco by youth.”
The City Council’s action and ordinance update in Fall 2021 included the steps of prohibiting the location of new tobacco retailers locating within 1,000 feet of facilities that serve youth and within 500 feet of an existing tobacco retailer. That requirement went into effect on November 18, 2021.
The Code Enforcement Division facilitated the Tobacco Retail Ordinance update with a grant from the County of Santa Clara, which is coordinating with cities throughout the county on flavored tobacco prohibitions.
San José and other cities proceeded with local bans after California Senate Bill 793, which banned the sale of flavored tobacco statewide in 2020, was placed on hold for a voter referendum in November 2022 that could potentially repeal the measure.
The American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation reports that as of April 1, 2022, 235 municipalities (predominantly in California) have banned or restricted the sale of flavored tobacco.
A trilingual brochure produced by the Code Enforcement Division explains the ban and other rules for tobacco retailers in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.