January 20, 2018

Current Flavor Ban ordinances in CA

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Welcome to Let’s Be Real California’s first newsletter of 2018!

This is sure to be a very busy year as we are watching several active attempts at flavor bans, tobacco retail license ordinances, and other attempts to restrict or prohibit tobacco sales. Be sure to check out the status of several pending bans or proposed bans throughout California. We’ve also included some news articles of note that we thought you’d be interested in reading. 

Thank you for your valuable support!

Some news items of note:

Bay Area Takes Police-State Approach to Tobacco
American Spectator

Bay Area flavored tobacco bans undermine harm reduction
R Street Institute

Tobacco control policy should be based on science, not misconceptions
The Hill

The evidence keeps piling up: e-cigarettes are definitely safer than smoking
The Guardian 

Regulating e-liquid flavors: Is the U.S. regulator more likely to do harm than good and how would it know?
The Counterfactual 

Experts write to the FDA about regulating e-liquid flavors
Vaping Post 

Is a bump ride in store for tobacco in 2018?
CSP Daily News
Flavor Ban Watch:

If you live in or have a business in one of these localities, contact us on how you can help fight these ill-conceived bans. And if you don’t, please stay vigilant and let us know immediately if you hear rumors of a proposal in your area so we can act before the idea becomes a threat. We can also help you engage with your local officials now, before any proposed ban, so that they understand your business better and the impact a ban would have. Let us know if you would like help!
San Francisco
In July, the San Francisco County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed, and Mayor Ed Lee signed into law, a total ban on the sales of menthol cigarettes, flavored vaping products, and other flavored tobacco products. Within a month of the enactment of the ordinance, a coalition of small businesses, community activists, and concerned citizens gathered sufficient signatures to force a referendum, meaning the voters of San Francisco will have the final say on whether the ban goes into effect. The ban is suspended pending the outcome of the election in June, 2018. Learn more at the Lets Be Real San Franciscowebsite, Facebook page and Twitter account.
In September, the Oakland City Council unanimously passed an ordinance banning the sales of flavored tobacco products, with an exception for those retailers defined as tobacco stores or smoke shops where 60% or more of products sold are tobacco products. The ban takes effect in July 2018.
San Jose
During a recent city council priority setting session, the issue of restrictions over flavored tobacco products was one of several policy topics that the council had the option to direct staff to prioritize. Other issues included public safety, traffic & congestion, homelessness, affordable housing, and jobs & economic development. Banning tobacco products was the last item on the priorities list and, as of now, it does not appear to have sufficient political will behind it to become a significant threat in the immediate future.

San Mateo County 

We’ve just learned that the Board of Supervisors will hear the introduction of a flavor ban that would affect menthol cigarettes and other flavored products at it’s Tuesday, January 23 meeting. If you are a retailer that would be affected by this proposal, we need you to turn out and speak up in defense of your business!

MEETING DETAILS: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 – 9AM
400 County Center
Redwood City, CA 94063
Agenda and materials
Contra Costa County
The county has banned the sales of flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes and flavored vaping products, within 1000 feet of parks, schools, playgrounds and libraries in unincorporated parts of Contra Costa County. The county ordinance also bars pharmacies from selling tobacco products, prohibits sales of little cigars and cigarillos in packs of less than 10. The county’s amended Tobacco Retail License ordinance also bans any new tobacco licenses granted to applicants within 1000 feet of schools, parks, libraries and playgrounds, and prohibits any new licenses within 500 feet of an existing license.
San Leandro
The city passed a ban on the sales of flavored tobacco products similar to bans in the above cities, but did not include menthol cigarettes in their version of the prohibition. The new ordinance also creates a Tobacco Retail License program that also applies to electronic cigarette and vaping product retailers.
The Berkeley City Council has been expected to take up an ordinance prohibiting sales of flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, but has not yet done so and is not yet scheduled to consider this item.
Staff is presently drafting an ordinance that would ban the sales of flavored products, including menthol cigarettes, raise the city’s legal smoking age to 21 (duplicative of the state’s law), prohibit new retailers within a certain proximity to schools, and ban the sales of cigars and cigarillos on small quantity packs. At present there is no expected date for when this will be presented to council.
The City Council given initial OK to an ordinance that would prohibit new smoke shops, as well as reduce over time the total number of tobacco retail licenses in the city over time. Gas station convenience stores with less than 20% floor space dedicated to tobacco products are exempted. There is no timeframe for the ordinance coming back to the council.
Staff has been directed to return to the City Council with a suggested Tobacco Retail License structure that may contain minimum pack provisions and other policy recommendations with the stated goal of reducing youth access to tobacco. The City Council was anticipated to take this issue up at its Monday, January 22nd meeting but will be delayed until February 26.

Redondo Beach
The city’s community development staff is reviewing and drafting recommendations for restricting youth access to tobacco, which may contain tobacco retail licensing and other restrictions. No draft expected to be presented to the council in February 2018.
A draft tobacco retail license ordinance may be presented to the City Council by staff but no date yet is known for introduction.
City staff has been directed by council to prepare and return by February 2018 with an ordinance banning the sales of flavored tobacco products.
The Oroville Planning Commission will consider a flavor ban that may be recommended to the City Council at it’s Thursday, January 25th meeting. 

MEETING DETAILS: Thursday, January 25, 2018 – 7PM
Oroville City Hall, 1735 Montgomery St., Oroville, CA
Agenda and materials posted here.

Beverly Hills

The city’s Health & Safety Commission will hold a hearing on January 22 to consider recommendations to the City Council on flavored tobacco products as well as a discussion on any possible action the city may take to restrict sales, including prohibitions on menthol cigarettes and other flavored products. Staff is believed to be working on a draft ordinance. 

MEETING DETAILS: Monday, January 22, 2018 – 4PM
Beverly Hills City Hall, Room 280A
455 N. Rexford Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Agenda and materials posted here.


Alameda’s City Council instructed staff to draft an ordinance creating a tobacco retail licensure that includes a ban on sales of flavored products, including menthol cigarettes. No timeline yet for when this will return to the council, but we will keep a close eye here.

Keep in touch!

Questions or comments? Need some more details on a particular threat or proposed flavor ban? Email us at

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