Protecting Youth, Banning Flavored Tobacco Products

Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.

On September 13, 2016, the Board of Supervisors took another step toward reducing tobacco use by Yolo County youth. While the Federal Drug Administration banned flavored cigarettes to decrease youth cigarette use, other flavored tobacco products continue to be marketed to youth. Since 2007 the use of flavored tobacco products by youth in Yolo County has tripled.

This should come as no surprise as flavored tobacco products are packaged and marketed like candy.

The Board considered three actions that have proven success in other communities with reducing youth tobacco use:

  1. Ban sales of flavored tobacco products, as they are primarily marketed to first time youth smokers;

  2. Sell flavored cigars in a minimum pack of five to reduce accessibility of single sale inexpensive products; and

  3. Limit the number of tobacco retailers.

These measures would only apply to retailers in the unincorporated areas of Yolo County. Preventing a lifelong addiction to nicotine and the associated adverse health-related impacts is of great importance to me. I am supportive of all three elements.

Concern was expressed to the Board about the negative economic impact to tobacco retailers if we moved forward with all three measures. (You can watch the discussion here.)

The Board approved moving forward with consideration of a ban on flavored tobacco products in the unincorporated areas of Yolo County. (3-1 with Supervisor Villegas in opposition and Supervisor Rexroad abstaining.) While I would prefer the Board of Supervisors to adopt all three measures, I am hopeful for this incremental step.

The second reading and potential adoption of this new ordinance is scheduled for the Board of Supervisors meeting on October 11, 2016.

I invite you to share your perspective with the Board of Supervisors either via email to the board or by offering public testimony when we discuss this topic on October 11th.