Los Angeles City Attorney Calls for Ban on Flavored Tobacco - NBC Southern California

Los Angeles City Attorney Calls for Ban on Flavored Tobacco

There have been 16 serious vaping-related injuries associated with vaping devices in Los Angeles County.



    Flavored Tobacco Products Could Be Banned in LA

    Flavored tobacco and menthol products could be banned throughout Los Angeles in an effort to prevent children from becoming addicted. Lolita Lopez and the I-Team report for the NBC4 News at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. (Published Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019)

    What to Know

    • Over 500 illnesses and at least seven deaths related to vaping have been reported nationwide, according to federal officials.

    • The City Attorney's report includes restrictions other cities and states have enacted to curtail the sales of devices that use nicotine.

    • Officials say about two-thirds of reported vaping illness cases were in people younger than 25.

    As the number of local vaping-related illnesses continues to rise, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer called for a citywide ban Thursday on the sale of flavored tobacco products.

    "Flavored tobacco plays an outsized role in the vaping epidemic confronting our youth and has long been a factor in increasing demand for traditional tobacco products," Feuer said. "Enacting a citywide ban on the sale of all flavored tobacco products is the best way to safeguard our youth and protect the general public from significant health risks."

    Feuer sent a report to the City Council outlining restrictions that have been enacted in other cities and states that aim to curtail sales of electronic cigarettes, hookah devices and other products that distribute nicotine. Some of the prohibitions suggested include regulating vaping advertising or coupons, as well as consideration of an outright ban on the substances and devices.

    "With the introduction of e-cigarettes ... flavored products were reintroduced to a new generation of our youth with resulting increase in youth tobacco usage," according to the city attorney's report. "The current health crisis was a predictable result and so too should be the city's response."

    The Food and Drug Administration has been using criminal investigators to examine illnesses related to using vaping products, Mitch Zeller, the director of the Center for Tobacco Products for the FDA, said Thursday.

    "Both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are working tirelessly to investigate the distressing incidents of severe respiratory illness associated with use of vaping products," according to the FDA website. "The FDA and CDC are working closely with state and local health officials to investigate these incidents as quickly as possible, and we are committed to taking appropriate actions as a clearer picture of the facts emerges."

    According to federal officials, more than 500 illnesses related to vaping have been reported nationwide, and at least seven people have died.

    The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health on Thursday again warned residents about the use of vaping and electronic cigarette devices, as they are potentially harmful to proper lung function.

    According to health officials, there have been 16 "serious" vaping-associated pulmonary injuries and one death associated with electronic cigarettes or vaping devices in Los Angeles County. Other reported cases around the nation noted similar symptoms such as coughing, difficulty breathing, fever and possible vomiting and diarrhea.

    Officials said about two-thirds of the vaping illness cases reported were in people younger than 25. Both male and female cases have been reported. All but one reported using both an e-cigarette and a cannabis-type product, not necessarily at the same time.

    One reported using flavored liquids only with no nicotine and it didn't contain THC or CBD, the elemental compounds that produce effects from smoking cannabis. Various devices and products were reported and remain under investigation, the county stated, and no specific vendor, product or substance has been identified as the cause.

    People can report vaping cases to the Department of Public Health at 626-299-3504.

    Tony Abboud Executive Director of the Vapor Technology Association released the following statement in light of the news: 

    "We share in the concern about underage vaping and advocate for strict marketing standards and sensible regulation. Underage vaping has resulted from unethical marketing practices by a few bad actors and illegal sales to ineligible consumers. We stand ready to work with individual cities and counties on thoughtful and effective regulations that restrict youth access, preserve flavored alternatives for adult smokers seeking to quit and allow legal and responsible vape small business owners the ability to continue to operate in a regulated market selling to adult consumers who rely on their access to these life-changing products."

    The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) issued the following statement:  

    "The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) applauds the LA City Attorney’s Office’s recommendation to enact nothing short of a citywide ban on the sale of all flavored tobacco products, without exception, which is the best option to protect our youth. The restrictions would cover candy, fruit and mint e-cigarettes, menthol cigarettes and any other flavored tobacco products including cigars. We urge the Los Angeles City Council to consider implementing these protections and immediately end the sale of flavored tobacco. Time is of the essence. Nearly 40 other cities, including San Francisco, have already instituted similar flavored tobacco restrictions. The recommendation from the LA City Attorney is exactly the type of protection we would like to see for every child in every city. Flavored tobacco products are a ruthless strategy by Big Tobacco to transform our kids into addicted tobacco users through flavored ‘starter kits.' Make no mistake—the industry shamelessly tries to maximize profits while its customers suffer death and disease, and local taxpayers continue to foot the bill for tobacco-related illnesses. New data release last week by the Food and Drug Administration shows youth use of e-cigarettes in high school skyrocketed, with a 135% increase over the past two years. Preliminary numbers show that an alarming 27.5% of high school students used e-cigarettes in the last 30 days. Sixty-three point nine percent used mint or menthol flavored e-cigarettes, only 2%less than fruit flavored products and significantly more than candy flavors. Flavors are driving the e-cigarette epidemic and its unprecedented increase in youth tobacco uptake. The best course of action is to eliminate sales of all flavored tobacco products in the manner recommended by the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office."

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