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Sacramento Council Rejects Tobacco Industry Plan, Will Vote On Flavored Tobacco Ban Next Week

Sammy Caiola / Capital Public Radio

Yummy gum, lemon twist, butterscotch and cinnamon roll are just a few of the flavors on the shelf at Twisted Smoke Shop in East Sacramento.

Sammy Caiola / Capital Public Radio

During a committee meeting on Tuesday — which one City Council member described as “highly unusual” — dozens of Sacramento area business owners spoke out against the city’s plan to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products.

Spurred by industry lobbyist and former council member Rob Fong, store operators pushed for regulations in lieu of an all-out ban. Their proposal included rules requiring retail clerks to scan customer IDs to prevent tobacco sales to people younger than 21, and hefty fines for businesses that sell to minors.

“The retailers are not the problem, but part of the solution to stopping youth from accessing tobacco products by checking IDs” said Jaime Rojas with the National Association of Tobacco Outlets.

An amended ordinance that would ban flavored tobacco sales in the city is scheduled for discussion in front of the full council next week. But Mayor Darrell Steinberg urged the committee to hear the industry’s proposal on Tuesday, a move that Council member Steve Hansen called “highly unusual.”

In the end, the Law and Legislation Committee voted unanimously to reject the tobacco industry’s plan.

"These products target communities of color, they target the LGBTQ community, and they target kids to try to develop behavior patterns that affect them for life,” said Hansen, adding that “the origin of cities is to protect the public’s health, safety and welfare.”

Council members will vote on the amended tobacco ordinance next Tuesday.

Nick Miller

Senior Editor, News & Features

Nick Miller is an award-winning editor with more than 15 years of newsroom experience. Previously he was editor-in-chief of the East Bay Express in Oakland, and worked as an editor for 12 years at the Sacramento News & Review.  Read Full Bio 

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