Coalition of parents, educators urge LA City Council to ban sale of flavored tobacco

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Parents, students, educators gathered at John Marshall High School in Los Angeles to urge local law makers to put an end to flavored tobacco sales. Los Angeles Unified School District officials say addiction to vaping is disrupting the lives of students.

LAUSD officials claim delicious-sounding vaping liquids are luring children to a life of addiction, illness and even early death.

"If we don't do something about the poison this is bringing to our schools, we are going to lose a generation of kids to these products," LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner said.

Beutner and L.A. School Board Vice President Jackie Goldberg joined forces with the Los Angeles Families Fighting Flavored Tobacco Coalition. They're asking the L.A. City Council to pass legislation to stop the sale of flavored tobacco.

"Every day a new story comes out about how these companies try to get our generation to use and keep using their products," high school senior Kyara Artola said.

The proposed city ban on flavored vaping solutions like mango and strawberry comes on the heels of the school district suing Juul, the largest manufacturer of vaping products. LAUSD experts say four out of five kids who have used tobacco started with a flavored product.

"It distracts us from what we are meant to be doing here, which is teaching kids to read, write, find themselves, express themselves. And prepare them for college life, " Beutner said.

Juul Labs announced it is going to stop the sale of mint Juulpods in the United States. But district officials say it doesn't really affect kids.

"How many adults even know what sour patch is unless they have children," Goldberg said. "But the kids know what sour patch flavors are. And that tells you that this is a design to hook children."

The CEO of Juul Labs acknowledged a national survey reporting more and more kids are using flavored solutions. CEO K.C. Crosthwaite said, "These results are unacceptable and that is why we must reset the vapor category in the U.S. and earn the trust of society by working cooperatively with the regulators."

But many students say it's not enough

"End this," Artola said, "We need to end this. We are the future."

Next week, the L.A. City Council is expected to introduce an ordinance to end the sale of flavored tobacco, which would include menthol and hookah products.
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