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LA County Supervisors Approve Ban On Flavored Tobacco Products

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — An ordinance banning flavored tobacco products, including menthol, has been unanimously approved for all of Los Angeles County.

The ordinance, which was approved at Tuesday night's Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting, will take effect in 30 days. Tobacco retailers will have 180 days after it takes effect to obtain new business licenses and to clear their shelves of flavored tobacco products. Online sales will not be prohibited and users will not be punished under the ordinance, according to Los Angeles County attorneys.

"The growing popularity of e-cigarettes and vaping puts the health and well-being of our communities, particularly our youth, at risk," Ridley-Thomas had said after the vote that introduced the ordinance. "This is not an assault on businesses but a thoughtful and balanced approach to legislation."

The ordinance requires a new county business license for tobacco and e-cigarette retailers with an initial fee of $778 and an additional $142 fee every two years after that. Businesses will also be required to maintain a tobacco retail license -- expanded to apply to stores that only sell electronic cigarettes or vaping products -- that costs $235 per year.

The introduction of the ban had been greeted with protests last week by dozens of tobacco business owners and advocates who support vaping and e-cigarettes as aids to quitting smoking. But nationwide, vaping has been linked to a mysterious rash of lung injuries. Sixteen deaths across the country have been linked to vaping, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

To date, some 102 Californians with a history of vaping have been hospitalized for severe breathing problems and lung damage, according to the state DPH. Two of those people have died, including one in Los Angeles County.

Though a specific cause has not yet been identified, the state agency warned that anyone inhaling a foreign substance puts themselves at risk and that vaping may lead to serious illness and death.

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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