Culver City Bans Sale of Flavored/Menthol Tobacco Products
Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Each year, tobacco usage causes the death of 40,000 Californians and nearly half a million individuals in the U.S. Recent estimates suggest that 441,000 Californians under 18 today will die from a tobacco-related disease. To that end, on October 28, 2019, Culver City’s City Council adopted an ordinance that bans the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol.
With certain exceptions, all tobacco retailers (including grocery and convenience stores, gas stations, etc.) have until May 25, 2020 before the ban takes effect, in order to give them an opportunity to sell off their flavored tobacco product inventory. Tobacco stores–defined as a retail establishment that generates more than 70% of its gross revenues from tobacco products–have until November 27, 2020 to comply with the ordinance. Additionally, the only existing hookah lounge located in Culver City is exempt from the ban, unless and until ownership changes.
“Tobacco and other types of smoking or vaping products remain a public health problem across our country – especially with children and diverse communities, who, for decades, seem to be targets of ‘Big Tobacco,’” said Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells. “With flavors such as strawberry and vanilla and marketing resembling that of popular candy brands, our City Council recognizes that young people, in particular, are susceptible to the appeal and addictive qualities of flavored tobacco products.”
Considered “starter” products, flavors and menthol mask tobacco’s natural flavor, making them more palatable, and potentially, more likely to lead to long term use for youth and first-time smokers. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that in 2011, less than 2% (220,000) of high school students reported using e-cigarettes; in 2018, 3 million high school students and 570,000 middle school students reported being current users.
Mayor Sahli-Wells continued, “By voting in favor of a citywide ban on flavored and menthol tobacco products, the City Council strives to protect the health, safety and welfare of our youth.”