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Flavor Bans Come to LA County and Burbank After Impassioned Public Hearing

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Monday may have been the first day of fall, but for vapers in Los Angeles... winter is already here.

In the latest hit on vaping legislation, both LA County and Burbank have approved bans on the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes.

On Tuesday, hundreds of individuals -- ranging from vaping businesses and advocates to anti-smoking groups -- rallied at the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration to debate the issue that’s been making national headlines: vaping.

California is no stranger to the vape war, with cities like San Francisco and Beverly Hills proposing legislation earlier this year. And with sensationalized media coverage around recent lung-related illnesses thought to be linked to black-market THC products, a federal flavor ban is in the works as well.

But what yesterday’s public hearings in both LA County and Burbank have again overlooked are the potential adverse effects of a flavor ban, which may in fact prove detrimental to public health and beneficial to big tobacco.

These blanket agendas neglect the benefits that vaping has for several adults, especially as an alternative to cigarettes. And what’s most unsettling is the concerted effort of using fear as a tactic to push the flavor ban through.

Vaping Advocates Protesting

Some have predicted that the onslaught of flavor bans popping up around the country are likely to result in either smokers returning to cigarettes, turning to black market products, or shifting to DIY (flavoring their own unflavored juices).

The issue of youth vaping was also raised at the LA County hearing with an organized effort from students and groups to voice their concerns. Protesters outside the courtroom could be heard chanting “save the kids,” met by vaping advocates responding, “Not for kids.”

After over 300 people signed up to speak on the matter (of which vapers greatly outnumbered non-vapers), the LA flavor ban ultimately passed.

“The Board of Supervisors was unanimous in the first of two votes on the proposal, which would prohibit sales of not just e-cigarettes with liquid nicotine pods but also traditional menthol cigarettes, shisha used in hookah pipes and flavored chewing tobacco, among other products. The plan also calls for a new licensing fee and tax for all tobacco sales businesses in the county's unincorporated areas.”  -KTLA

An amendment by Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas that gives businesses 180 days to come into compliance helped pass the measure. As of now, it seems online sales won’t be affected, but only for unincorporated areas which still need a second vote.

We’ll keep you updated as this story unfolds.
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