California law makers have introduced a stronger measure to outlaw stores selling all flavored tobacco products in the state. This goes further than the federal government's plan to temporarily ban flavored e-cigarette products that could be lifted if companies can convince the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that the pods are safe.
Rancho Mirage Mayor, Iris Smotrich, is now proposing a vapor sales ban for the city. This is expected to be on the council agenda January 16th.
"It's heartbreaking and something that is so preventable." Smotrich states, "As of December 4th 2019 over 2200 people have been sickened by vaping illnesses and 48 people have died."
If the proposed ordinance passes, there will be a second reading two weeks later. After this, the ordinance will be in effect 30 days later. A letter has been drawn that will go to the businesses that sell these products, and they will have official notice that a ban is being put in place. Businesses will have those 30 days to sell the remainder of their products. After the 30 days, Smotrich says, "They will be breaking the law if they continue to sell these products."
Nationally, the Trump Administration announced a partial ban on many flavored e-cigarette pods. California lawmakers later, introduced a much stronger measure to outlaw the sales of all flavored tobacco products in the state.
Smotrich believes, "It's up to those city officials all over the country to jump on board and want to protect as many people as they can."
Some residents we spoke to in Rancho Mirage were in favor of the ban. One resident saying, "It's made a lot of people ill, it's not good." Another resident, Tara Meltzer, says, "I understand that it's bad and a bad health risk for our youth, and it seems like the youth are more into vaping." Resident, Fred Grimshaw says, "I think it should be banned period."
One local smoke shop is worried if the city does pass this ban on vaping products, then other cities around the Coachella Valley will follow.
Smoke shop manager in Palm Desert, Mike Manastra, says" Its been helping a lot of people quit smoking. If Rancho Mirage is going to ban it then, I think probably Palm Desert is going to do it." Manastra tells us vaping products are 40% of his sales and that his sales have already declined 20% over the last year. These kind of bans, he believes, will further impact his business. "It will effect us a lot, we have a lot of clients, a lot of customers, so if they take it away it will affect us a lot."