The sale of flavored tobacco products, including the sale of menthol cigarettes, was banned in the city of West Hollywood, Calif.
The city council of West Hollywood, Calif., recently passed legislation banning the sale of menthol-flavored cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products. According to the council, the ban cover flavored electronic cigarettes and other non-combustibles as well.
The ban overall covers any flavored tobacco products. Products under this legal definition emulate state and federal definitions that characterize tobacco products as cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, pipe tobacco, and “electronic smoking devices.”
Menthol is also now an outlawed flavor. Coupons or other sorts of retail discounts on regular tobacco products are also banned. Shisha is still permitted under the new law.
“The sooner [tobacco companies] get you addicted, the longer they’re going to have a customer and the more profit they’re going to make off of you,” West Hollywood Mayor Lindsey Horvath said in an interview, published on Feb. 18 by The Los Angeles Times.
“What that also means is many more chronic health impacts, and perhaps not being aware or being exposed to education or information about the impacts of early tobacco use. We’re doing what we can to have both an education campaign but also restricting access to those products, which make becoming addicted that much easier,” Hovarth added in the interview.
Council members were lobbied by vape and tobacco shop owners, claiming that such an ordinance was overreaching and directly harmful to their bottom lines.
West Hollywood’s ordinance, observers note, is a similar bill passed by the California voters last year.
Thanks to political campaigning by large tobacco and vape brands, the law’s implementation was put on hold due to a referendum that was triggered for the ballots in 2022.
The reasons why shisha was exempted from the council’s flavored tobacco ban stems from lobbying from hookah shop business groups claiming the importance of the tobacco blend in Middle Eastern culture.
“Ultimately, hookah itself is a completely different subject than Marlboro selling some bubblegum cigarette to a 16-year-old who wants the taste and feel, and then they’re living a life of horrible health results of something they thought was fun and cool at the time,” said council member John Erickson in a statement.