By Sue Frost–
In October, two of my colleagues on the Board of Supervisors announced that they are bringing forward an item to our agenda to ban all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, flavored e-cigarettes and hookah.
I have written in the past about this subject, but it ultimately never came forward for a vote at the Board of Supervisors. Now, with this recent push I think it necessary to update readers on this subject once again.
I want to say at the beginning that I am completely in agreement with the proponents of flavored tobacco bans in the goal of reducing teen smoking. As a former emergency room nurse, I understand firsthand that we should be doing everything we can to keep teens from smoking, and educating them so that when they turn 18 they fully know the dangers associated with smoking.
I also recognize that teens are illegally obtaining and using flavored tobacco products in greater volume, and in many cases transitioning to traditional cigarettes.
But Sacramento County doesn’t have a wall built around it, and anyone who wants to buy flavored tobacco products can easily obtain them from other nearby areas that have not banned it. These products will still be readily available in other counties, as well as here in Citrus Heights.
A statewide ban would be far more effective so that people in Sacramento County can’t access these nearby, and one will actually be on the ballot as a statewide proposition in 2022.
I have also heard from many adults who legally use flavored tobacco products both because they recreationally enjoy it, and because they use flavored e-cigarettes as a less harmful alternative to smoking. While these adults will still be able to access them in other communities, it will make it more difficult for them to access something that is otherwise legal to use, and they will be sending their tax dollars to other communities instead of spending money in Sacramento County.
Instead of a ban, we could instead solve this problem by increasing the penalty for selling tobacco products to a minor from the current maximum of $7,500, to a new minimum of $7,500, accompanied by a ramped up undercover shopper program. This increase in penalties could potentially fully offset the cost of an improved undercover shopper program, but at the very least be substantially less than the loss in revenue we will now be facing under the ban.
Leading up to my vote on this issue, I will be meeting with stakeholders on both sides of the issue to understand their perspectives in more detail. But more than anything, I want to hear what you have to say.
Sacramento County Supervisor Sue Frost formerly served as a Citrus Heights councilwoman and currently represents District 4, which includes Citrus Heights. She can be contacted at (916) 874-5491, or SupervisorFrost@saccounty.net.
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