The officials are sponsoring legislation that would bar the sale of flavored tobacco products in Oakland, including possibly vape juice for electronic cigarettes, and also prevent the sale of cigars in single or double packages.
Their proposal is designed to prevent tobacco companies from marketing their products to kids. But it could spark a backlash from smokers, including folks who like to roll weed into blunts using sweetened cigar leaves.
Tobacco brands such as Zig Zag and Backwoods currently market wraps in flavors like “Wham Bam Watermelon” and “Honey Berry,” which are sold in colorful packaging that resembles bags of candy. Popular cigarillos made by Swisher and Backwoods also come in fruit and candy flavors.
And there are literally thousands of vape flavors available for sale, according to public health researchers. Many have flavors like gummy bears or chocolate, which critics say is an effort to get kids to smoke and vape.
Candy and fruit flavored cigarettes are already banned by federal law. But there is no federal or state law regulating what kinds of flavors tobacco companies can infuse into cigars, smokeless tobacco, and vape oil.
Campbell Washington previously spearheaded Oakland’s soda tax, a one cent per fluid ounce excise on sugar-sweetened beverages. The soda tax was also designed as a public health measure to reduce consumption and fund nutrition education programs. It was approved by Oakland voters by a wide margin.
But the tobacco products limits could be a harder sell due to the fact that flavored cigars and wraps are popular with adults, and tobacco is already heavily taxed and regulated.
The Oakland City Council will hold an initial hearing on the tobacco rules at the April 25 meeting of the Life Enrichment Committee.