City Council to consider flavored tobacco and menthol cigarette sales ban

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Following a discussion at a council meeting in late May, the City Council will meet on Aug. 26 to discuss the possibility of enacting an ordinance prohibiting the sale of flavored tobacco and menthol products.

While this idea was met with some pushback at the May 28 City Council Meeting, most of those members of the public in attendance were in favor of the ordinance. Several students from Culver City High School spoke at the meeting, professing to council members the extreme increase in the frequency of kids vaping in school, and to implore them to enact this ordinance. According to a California Healthy Kids Survey, 14% of 11th-grade students at CCHS reported current e-cigarette usage, while Culver City Middle School teachers are noticing an increase in e-cigarette usage from their students.

Most arguments hinged on this point and the idea that flavor names like ‘Tutti Frutti’ and ‘Cotton Candy’ draw kids to e-cigs and vapes. According to a recent countywide study, regular vaping among high school students in Los Angeles County has increased by about 10%, while about 30% have resorted to using an e-cigarette and related products. These numbers are large jumps from the previous year and are enough to prompt concerns not only in Culver City but countywide as well.

However, there were several members of the community at the meeting to express their displeasure, citing potential lost revenues at gas stations and the ease to purchase these products either outside city borders or online.

Selling flavored menthol and tobacco products to minors is already illegal, yet a majority of users in both Culver City and Los Angeles County purchased their vaping equipment from a vape store.

Towards the end of the meeting, the way hookah bars and similar businesses would be handled was briefly discussed, and City Attorney Heather Baker told Culver City News that should the ordinance be implemented, it would most likely apply to these businesses as well.

If this ordinance is implemented, it would follow in suit with other surrounding cities such as Beverly Hills, though many cities such as West Hollywood, Hermosa Beach, and Manhattan Beach have exceptions that allow for certain businesses to remain legal.

In particular, several cities have given an exception in the ordinance to adults-only establishments, which would provide the aforementioned hookah establishments with some breathing room.

Other places like West Hollywood have decided to completely prohibit the sale of “all characterizing flavors,” but only within 600 feet of a ‘youth populated area,’ which includes schools, daycares, youth centers, and other facilities focused on youth services.

The meeting will take place at 7 p.m. in the Mike Balkman Council Chambers at Culver City City Hall, 9770 Culver Blvd.