County board approves new regulations on flavored tobacco sales


The sale of flavored “e-liquids” for electronic vaping devices will soon be banned in unincorporated areas of Contra Costa County following a unanimous vote by the county’s Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

Also, menthol cigarettes, flavored vaping solutions and other flavored tobacco products will be prohibited within 1,000 feet of schools, parks, playgrounds and libraries.

The new regulations aim to prevent flavored tobacco products from luring youth into addiction, according to Contra Costa Health Services.

The new rules additionally ban tobacco products in pharmacies and prohibit the sale of any cigarillos and little cigars in packs smaller than 10, unless the sales price of one cigar is over $5.  Additionally, no new tobacco retailer licenses will be granted to businesses located within 1,000 feet of schools, parks, playgrounds or libraries, or within 500 feet of another business that sells tobacco.

Most of the new regulations take effect on Aug. 17, and retailers are expected to be fully compliant with the no-sale of tobacco products provision no later than Jan. 1. Over the next few months, the county says it will provide education and outreach to affected businesses.

According to a county statement, inexpensive products such as “watermelon” or “tropical blast” cigarillos are for sale at more than 80-percent of retail outlets near county schools that offer tobacco products.
“Peak age for experimenting with tobacco is 11-13, not 18 and not 21. We’re talking about kids who like candy and who are very susceptible to advertising,” said Mary Jaccodine, co-chair of the Contra Costa Tobacco Prevention Coalition. “We already ban flavors in cigarettes and small packs of cigarettes, so it’s not a big leap to ban a 99-cent pack of strawberry or grape cigars.”

A number of Bay Area cities and counties have already implemented bans on the sale of flavored tobacco products, including Santa Clara and Yolo counties, El Cerrito, Novato, Los Gatos, San Francisco and Oakland.