LA County unanimously votes to ban flavored tobacco, calls for statewide vaping ban

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted Tuesday to adopt an ordinance banning flavored tobacco products, including menthol, and to call on California Gov. Gavin Newsom to pass a statewide ban on vaping, amid growing concerns over vaping-related illnesses.

The board had originally held the item for discussion, but ultimately approved it without comment from any of the supervisors as the meeting ran long.

The vote came in spite of protests last week by dozens of tobacco business owners and advocates who support vaping and e-cigarettes as aids to quitting smoking.

The ordinance will take effect in 30 days. Tobacco retailers then have 180 days to obtain new licenses required under the ordinance and to clear their shelves of flavored tobacco products.

Online sales will not be prohibited and users will not be punished under the ordinance, according to county lawyers.

Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer told the board last week that flavored tobacco products are driving the current vaping epidemic among youth'' and encouraging experimentation that can lead to lifelong addiction.

"As the number of vaping-related deaths and hospitalizations climb, and as more states have taken steps to protect youth from the harmful effects of vaping products, we need to support our state leaders and ask them to step in to protect the public," said Supervisor Hilda Solis in a written statement following the vote. Solis introduced the motion.

Local leaders say the ultimate goal is to temporarily ban the sale of vaping products across the state of California. Tuesday's vote would affect L.A. County's unincorporated areas, which is home to about 1 million people, and would effectively ban the sales of the flavored products, including menthol, to everyone.

RELATED: Public health officials confirm 1st known vaping-associated death in Los Angeles County

Long Beach is also working on a city ordinance to ban the sale of vaping products.

California joins several states pushing back on e-cigarettes, including Massachusetts where its governor put a four-month ban on the sales.

The proposed restrictions in California come as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the latest casualties: 805 confirmed and probable lung injuries and 12 deaths. Two out of three victims are 18 to 34 years old.

JUUL Labs announced last week that the company is suspending all broadcast, print and digital product advertising in the U.S. JUUL said it will also "refrain from lobbying the Administration on its draft guidance and committing to fully support and comply with the final policy when effective."

Local officials are calling on Gov. Gavin Newsom to ban the products in the state until public health officials deem e-cigarettes safe to use.

City News Service contributed to this report.
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