SAN DIEGO — Beginning Wednesday, California retailers must stop selling flavored tobacco products and menthol cigarettes.
The new statewide law aims to reduce the rise in teen smoking.
Several smoke shops and liquor stores around San Diego told FOX 5 they find it unfair and want flavored marijuana banned. The stores have said that customers will find another way to buy the flavored products outside of their stores.
But supporters, including doctors, have said making it a step harder for kids and teens to get products could go a long way in reducing smoking among them.
The new bill means no more selling cotton candy, blueberry or any other flavors of tobacco products in California.
“I think this is a huge win for children’s health, both in terms of the physical health and mental health,” Dr. Willough Jenkins, the Medical Director for Emergency and Consultation Liaison Psychiatry at Rady Children’s Hospital, told FOX 5.
Voters passed Proposition 31 in November to ban retailers from selling or possessing a list of flavored tobacco and menthol products, including menthol cigarettes, e-cigarettes or vape pens with flavored liquid, flavored little cigars or cigarillos, tobacco product flavor enhancers, along with other products.
“With this going into place where access will be more difficult, we will see a reduction in use. Some children, of course, may be able to find the product in other ways, but this is one of the first step as a barrier prevention in a bigger task force in education about the harms of e-cigarettes and smoking for youth,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins said middle and high school students are big customers of all kinds of flavored tobacco, cannabis and menthol products, and that Rady Children’s Hospital continues to see several physical and mental health complications in youth who use these products.
“In addition, the lung disease, the exacerbation of the underlying lung condition, things like asthma that children have — these things can absolutely be worsened,” Jenkins said. “So, if you’re a parent watching this, I really encourage you to look at your own habits and use and realize that impact can have on your children.”
Several smoke shops and liquor stores told FOX 5 they are not on board and are against being forced to stop selling the flavored tobacco and menthol products. Smoke shop owners said, what with most of their products being flavored, they fear going out of business. Liquor store owners said they will also lose out on a good profit. Owners also said they are concerned for customers older than 21 years old who enjoy flavored products.
Under the new law, if retailers and wholesalers still have the banned products, they may contact the distributor or wholesalers for a refund. The law states that local law enforcement will be authorized to enforce the new law. Retailers can be fined $250 for each violation.