SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — Ahead of the San Jose City Council meeting, the mayor, city council members and local leaders held a rally to support ending the sale of all flavored tobacco in San José.
On Tuesday, city leaders will vote on an ordinance to end the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes.
“I’m grateful that tomorrow we finally will be able to vote to put these very important regulations in place to protect our youth and to protect our future,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.
“We all know for two decades now, perhaps three decades big tobacco has been losing market share here in the United States and while it is a dying industry, it’s a very powerful and potent one,” Liccardo added.
“And more than ever they are recognizing that new, young users are the key to maintaining their profits and power.”
Advocates, parents, and city leaders said the ordinance comes as classrooms have returned for in-person learning and that parents should be made aware of the “alarming increasing adoptions of flavored tobacco products” by the youth.
A recent survey shows 73% of San Jose voters support a proposal that would prohibit the sale of flavored tobacco in the city, with more than three in five saying they do so “strongly.”
“The issue with flavored tobacco is really a black and brown issue, it deals with youth,” said Bob Nunez, vice president for the NAACP of Silicon Valley.
“Having been the Superintendent over at East Side Union High School District, every day I would see students coming to those campuses, smoking on the way in and as soon as they stepped off, smoking on the way home,” Nunez added.
“For 60 years the tobacco companies have been trying to continuously sell that kind of death to the black and brown community and we simply say it’s time to stop now.”
The ordinance comes more than two years after initial discussions were brought forward by City Council member Magdalena Carrasco in 2019 to have the city prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes.
Carrasco tells KRON4 News she is partially worried that big tobacco companies will continue to target Latino and Black youth unless the city steps in.
“We want to make sure that in the city of San Jose that we let the big tobacco industry know that here we care about our children’s health, that we’re going to do everything and anything possible to guarantee their future,” said Carrasco.
“And that we’re not going to accept new tobacco-addicted efforts especially in our vulnerable communities.”
If approved, the ordinance will prohibit the sale of flavored tobacco products, including flavored e-cigarettes, limit any further overconcentration of tobacco retailers by prohibiting new tobacco retailers within 1,000 feet of a youth-sensitive receptor and within 500 feet of an existing tobacco retailer.
Existing retailers will be given a six-month grace period to sell their remaining stock of flavored tobacco products.