CHULA VISTA, Calif. – The City of Chula Vista voted unanimously to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products at its council meeting Tuesday night. The ban will go into effect on January 1, 2023.

The ordinance makes it unlawful for any tobacco or e-cig retailer to sell or distribute specified flavored tobacco products, including menthol.

The vote comes more than two years after a similar vote was tabled in the same council chamber back in February 2020.

Chula Vista now joins more than 60 jurisdictions across the state with similar bans, and several locally, including the City of San Diego, unincorporated San Diego County, and Encinitas.

More than 30 public speakers took to the stand and spoke Tuesday, most in favor of the ban, but also many small business owners, against it.

“There’s been almost been 15,000 different flavored tobacco products on the market from bubblegum to cotton candy, breakfast, you name it, and they are marketing this to our youth to get future customers,” Adrian Kwiatkowski with San Diego vs. Big Tobacco Coalitio.

“We are not big tobacco obviously, we are small business owners, the majority-minority and immigrants,” one Chula Vista small business owner said. “ I take pride in the way me and my team operate my business, we check IDs, no exceptions.”

“Any high schooler knows that if you go to the bathroom at school you will find people vaping and I’m sick of it,” Daniela Radashkevich, a local high school student, said.

“I see people in my life deeply affected by nicotine use and I want to see a decrease in it,” said Danica Fincher, another high school student.

Local organizations and groups against the use of flavored tobacco products said one in four San Diego high school students use e-cigarettes, which the CDC says are not safe for kids, teens, or young adults.

However, small businesses in Chula Vista said the blame should not be on them.

“We want to continue to take care of our community, but to put the blame on the retailers and say we are the bad guys in this is very unfair,” one local business owner said.

A similar fight has been going on at the state level.

California voters will have a chance to decide if this flavored tobacco ban should be statewide on the November ballot as Proposition 31.

The city has not announced an estimated revenue impact, but if this passes statewide, Proposition 31 estimated that tobacco tax revenues would decrease by up to $100 million a year.

After the vote was tabled in 2020, city staff were directed to dig deeper into data about vaping in Chula Vista. They found that 32% of stores selling flavored tobacco products were gas stations and convenience stores. They also found that 30% of retailers selling flavored tobacco products were located within 500 feet of South Bay schools or parks

The presentation during the city council meeting Tuesday showed results that shared a retail location was the most likely way students in Chula Vista were getting their hands on vaping products were from local gas stations and convenience stores.

There is concern about enforcement of online sales at the local level, but there is currently a state law that may assist and is already in effect, which bans online sales to minors.

City staff said enforcement of banning certain levels of nicotine would be too difficult because packaging and shops may not clearly state the level of nicotine.