LOS ANGELES, CA — Today, City Attorney Mike Feuer renewed his call for the City Council to implement a comprehensive ban on the sale of all flavored tobacco products in the City of Los Angeles, including flavored hookah. This week Feuer’s Office transmitted a new proposed ordinance which bans the sale of flavored tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. Because the City Council majority requested an ordinance that includes an exemption for flavored hookah, however, the proposed ordinance reflects that exemption. Feuer is seeking to have this exemption removed.
“A complete ban in the City of Los Angeles on the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including flavored hookah, has the potential to be life-saving,” said Feuer. “3.6-million kids across the nation are vaping, using e-cigarettes, a gateway to regular cigarettes. Kid-friendly flavors are driving this youth vaping epidemic. Hookah also comes in a variety of sweet flavors to entice kids, and I’m calling on the City Council to include sales of flavored hookah in this proposed ban. Any exemption would not do enough to protect public health.”
“Tobacco use causes nearly a third of all cancer deaths in California,” said American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Government Relations Director, Primo Castro. “That is why it’s so important for Los Angeles to end the sale of flavored tobacco products that threaten to addict a new generation, and halt the decades of discriminatory and deceitful marketing of menthol cigarettes that bring death and disease to Black and countless other underrepresented communities. While this is a starting point for drafting a strong ordinance we urge the City Council to quickly approve and adopt a comprehensive ordinance that ends the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, cigars, menthol cigarettes and flavored shisha products.”
“Big Tobacco uses fruit and candy flavors like bubblegum and passionfruit and “iced” mentholated flavors, like “Lush Ice” in addition to minty menthol, to hook generations of young people on harmful and highly addictive nicotine. In the absence of federal legislation, it is essential that Los Angeles act quickly to take those products off the shelves” said Suraya Fadel, a volunteer with Parents Against Vaping e-Cigarettes. “We are grateful to the LA City Attorney for drafting an ordinance that will protect our kids from the Tobacco industry’s predatory behavior. Our strong coalition of parents, community leaders and public health organizations will continue urging the City Council to pass this ordinance to keep our kids safe and healthy.”
“The strong ordinance drafted by the Los Angeles City Attorney will protect children, LGBTQ+ young people and all the diverse communities to which we belong from the candy-flavored tobacco and minty-menthol cigarettes Big Tobacco uses to hook people for life,” said Shannon Kozlovich, PhD., Program Manager for EQCA. “Study after study shows that the reason why most young people start using e-cigarettes – and why they get hooked – is because these tobacco products are sold in the candy flavors that directly appeal to youth. As the tobacco industry tries to overturn a life-saving California law that ends the sale of candy-flavored e-cigarettes and minty-menthol cigarettes, we urge the City Council to pass this ordinance now to keep our kids safe from Big Tobacco’s confection-flavored deception.”
“Today, Los Angeles is taking one step closer to ending generations of Big Tobacco preying on Black neighborhoods, hooking our kids on menthol cigarettes and profiting off disease, addiction, and death,” said Reverend John E. Cager III, Ward A.M.E. Church. “Some 40,000 Black people die every year from smoking-related diseases, many of them trapped from a young age in a lifelong addiction to nicotine. Now that the City Attorney has drafted the language for this life-saving ordinance, in the coming weeks we will continue to call on the LA City Council to double down on keeping young people safe and healthy by taking minty-menthol cigarettes and candy-flavored e-cigarettes off the shelves for good.”
The exemption the Council majority sought would allow for both the onsite sales and consumption of flavored hookah tobacco in existing hookah lounges and the sale of flavored hookah by these lounges for offsite consumption. Banning flavored tobacco sales everywhere else, while allowing onsite sale and consumption of flavored hookah at hookah lounges, could drive adults to hookah lounges—and studies show long-term hookah use is linked to cancer and heart disease. In addition, allowing sales for offsite consumption undermines the ordinance by making it much more likely that kids will be able to use flavored hookah.
In California, over 9 percent of high school students report having tried or being a current user of hookah, which is also often the starting point for roughly 25 percent of college students who have used nicotine products. It is no coincidence that hookah lounges are often located close to college campuses.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), although many users think it is less harmful, hookah smoke contains many of the same dangerous toxins found in cigarette smoke including nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide. In fact, in a typical one-hour hookah session, users may inhale 100–200 times the amount of smoke they would inhale from a single cigarette. In a single water pipe session, users are exposed to up to 9 times the carbon monoxide and 1.7 times the nicotine of a single cigarette.
As requested by the Los Angeles City Council, while the proposed new ordinance bans the sale of flavored tobacco products, including the thousands of flavors associated with e-cigarettes, it allows for the sale of flavored hookah at permitted hookah lounges.
According to the U.S Food and Drug Administration, seven out of ten middle school e-cigarette users use flavors. A recent study found that over 73% of public schools are within 1,000 feet of a store that sells such tobacco products. The new proposed ordinance will stop these flavored products from being sold in the City of Los Angeles.
Feuer’s Office has long been on the front lines of protecting youth from the harmful effects of tobacco. It was successful in lawsuits against three vaping companies for allegedly selling vape products online without proper age verification and for marketing their products to kids. The Office secured stiff penalties and an array of strict regulations to ensure they will not advertise or sell vape products to minors.
Feuer’s Office was also behind the award-winning, bi-lingual “Disobey Vape” campaign, which presented the truth about the harmful impacts of vaping to parents and kids under the tagline of “Your Body Knows.”
The Tobacco Enforcement Program in Feuer’s Office regulates over 4,000 tobacco retailers in the City of Los Angeles and is proactive in retailer outreach to encourage and support responsible practices. It also has a robust enforcement program that suspends tobacco permits for retailers that sell tobacco products to youth or break other tobacco-related laws.