The city of Los Angeles should try to curb the sale of flavored tobacco products to youth and young adults and study how other cities are tackling the issue, according to a motion approved Wednesday by a City Council committee.
Councilman Mitch O’Farrell introduced the motion requesting that the City Attorney’s Office and the Office of the Chief Legislative Analyst report on a strategy aimed at restricting the sale of the products to youth, and the Health, Education, Neighborhoods, Parks, Arts and River Committee voted to move forward with the study.
“It’s unconscionable that we would stand idly by while this — you’ve heard it referred to as an epidemic — is increasing,” O’Farrell said at the meeting. “It’s just an all new way of creating a new avenue for nicotine addition to an entirely new generation. That’s what’s unconscionable. And as long as we have the power to do something about that, and dissuade this type of use, especially when youth are targeted for profit at the expense of their health and well being, that is not acceptable.”
Many speakers at the meeting spoke against the city creating a ban on liquid nicotine or flavored tobacco. O’Farrell stressed that his motion is not about banning any products but restricting sales to young people, and that he believed a misinformation campaign was being spread about his intent.
“I think a lot of people have been driven by fear because of this misinformation campaign, but that’s just part of the price of doing business here at City Hall,” he said.
O’Farrell’s motion says that “the consumption of flavored tobacco products such as cigars, smokeless tobacco and liquid nicotine solution used for vaping have increased in recent years, while menthol cigarettes continue to corner a large part of the Unites States cigarette market.” And it cites an FDA report that more than 2 million high school students were users of e-cigarettes in 2017.
O’Farrell’s motion comes as the federal government also is considering a crackdown on flavored e-cigarettes and menthol cigarettes, with the Food and Drug Administration on Monday announcing an effort to focus on the sale of flavored liquids, restrict the sale of flavored cigars, and grant the FDA more power to remove other products.
Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer last year announced that his office is seeking injunctions against several electronic cigarette companies, alleging they are engaged in the illegal sale of vaping products and marketing that promotes youth consumption of tobacco.
Jay Oku, a representative of Five Pawns, a California company that manufactures liquid nicotine, said the products are about helping people quit smoking tobacco.
“The solution is to meet with the specialty vape shops who educate the consumers to break an addiction that they’ve had for 20, 30, 40 years,” Oku said. “And we do not appeal to children. We do not want children to use this.”