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UT: Surge in youth vaping prompting cities, state to consider flavored tobacco bans

02/19/20

Read the full article by David Garrick in the San Diego Union-Tribune here.

"A national surge in youth vaping is prompting many local cities, including San Diego, to consider banning the sale of flavored tobacco, vaping liquids and related products.

"Supporters say drastic action is needed to prevent more young people from becoming lured into tobacco addiction by the convenience of vaping and the appeal of flavors like bubblegum, mango and lemonade.

"County officials took the lead last month by adopting a ban on flavored tobacco, but it covers only local unincorporated areas and the 500,000 people living there. They say the new law won’t be truly effective unless local cities follow suit.

"Imperial Beach quickly adopted a similar ban, and county officials have since been lobbying other cities. Supervisor Nathan Fletcher visited Encinitas and San Diego last week, and is scheduled to moderate a Chula Vista community panel on Thursday.

"'What we are seeing, particularly with our children and our youth, is an epidemic of vaping,' Fletcher told the San Diego City Council’s Environment Committee last Thursday. 'We know this is not only setting up these youth for a lifetime of potential addiction to nicotine, but also has severe impacts on adolescent brain development.'

"Meanwhile, state lawmakers are proposing similar legislation — Senate Bill 793 — that would ban the sale of flavored tobacco across California. 

"Fletcher told San Diego officials that local cities need to step up the fight against the tobacco industry, which is using vaping and flavored products to regain market share among young people.

"'It was getting a new generation of kids addicted to a new substance that would continue to fuel its profit margins,' he said.

"Fletcher said the tobacco industry has made vaping devices appealing to young people, frustrating school officials.

"'We know we have to do something,' he said. 'They’re cheap, they’re easy to hide, they’re easy to share and they’re incredibly addictive.'

"While Fletcher agreed that some smokers have been able to successfully give up cigarettes because of vaping, he said studies show the number of people who use flavored tobacco to quit cigarettes is dwarfed by the number of young people who get hooked by the flavored version.

"The county legislation, which takes effect July 1, was praised last week by leaders of several local nonprofits that focus on reducing youth tobacco use. They told city officials that flavored tobacco clearly targets young people."