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Garcetti signs ban on sale of flavored tobacco; Ordinance goes into effect on Jan. 1

Garcetti signs ban on sale of flavored tobacco; Ordinance goes into effect on Jan. 1
Garcetti signs ban on sale of flavored tobacco; Ordinance goes into effect on Jan. 1 00:23

A ban on the sale of flavored tobacco in Los Angeles was signed into law by Mayor Eric Garcetti Monday.

The ordinance was unanimously approved June 1 by the Los Angeles City Council and goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2023. The ordinance includes an exception for hookah lounges with valid tobacco retailer's permits that prohibit entry to anyone under the age of 21.

"Today the city of Los Angeles became the largest city in the United States to adopt an ordinance restricting the sale of flavored tobacco — including menthol. This tremendous step in public health will save lives and will pave the way for other cities across the country to prioritize health above Big Tobacco profits," Harold Wimmer, president and CEO of the American Lung Association, said in a statement.

The City Council nearly approved the ordinance with an exemption for menthol cigarettes, but the council's three Black councilmen at the time — Mark Ridley-Thomas, Marqueece Harris-Dawson, and Curren Price — amended the motion to remove that exemption, citing the high rates of Black people who smoke menthol cigarettes.

"Menthol is included in this ban, as it should be," Harris-Dawson said before voting on the ordinance on June 1. "It is a flavor just like every other flavor and it would have been extremely disappointing if we had said we're going to protect people and children from uptake of tobacco, except for the flavor that we know Black people first and Latinos second use the most."

According to the CDC, the tobacco industry "has aggressively marketed menthol products to young people and African Americans, especially in urban communities.'' In April, the FDA proposed a rule to ban menthol and other flavors in cigarettes and cigars.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in October 2019 to adopt an ordinance banning flavored tobacco products.

According to national data, tobacco is the No. 1 preventable killer in the United States, resulting in more deaths than the number of people who die from alcohol, AIDS, car accidents, illegal drugs, murder and suicide combined.

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