Flavored tobacco ban referendum on Livermore council agenda

Parents vow to fight attempt to overturn city ordinance at the polls

A referendum challenging Livermore’s recent ban on the sale of flavored tobacco within the city limits is on the City Council's Sept. 9 meeting agenda, just two months after the council unanimously adopted the new city ordinance.

Livermore was the second city in California to ban selling flavored tobacco and flavored vapor liquids in its borders; San Francisco was the first in 2018.

The local ordinance would prohibit sales of all tobacco products within 1,000 feet of a “youth-populated area,” add strict limits for businesses selling vaping paraphernalia and establish the city’s first ever tobacco retailer license program. All electronic smoking device sales were banned with the exception of new products approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, as well as sales of vaping fluids, unless they were non-flavored.

City clerk Sarah Bunting confirmed the agendization to the Weekly in an email Friday, and said that “the City Council will adopt a resolution accepting the city clerk’s certification of sufficiency of signatures on the petition” backed by Bay Area vapor product company JUUL Labs. Council members could either change their decision on the ordinance and rescind it, or let voters decide in either a regular or special election, according to Bunting.

On Aug. 20 the Alameda County Registrar of Voters’ Office confirmed enough signatures had been collected on the referendum petition. The petition needed at least 5,269 valid signatures to qualify.

But local anti-tobacco group Flavors Addict Kids-Livermore said they’ll continue to fight the battle in their hometown.

“We definitely want to keep the ordinance, we believe in it,” said member Kristie Wang. “We would like to see the City Council bring it to a vote.”

Flavored tobacco and vaping has grown in popularity, according to Wang, who cited a local study that found one in three Livermore teens has used e-cigarettes. “My kids say they see more vaping happening more than ever, and it’s something that’s very real for us,” she said. “For a company like JUUL to come in and overturn what the city has asked for...we’re going to fight it.”

Wang said she “thought this was a one-and-done” with the ordinance’s passage this summer, adding, “I didn’t think it would turn into this big thing, and that we’d be fighting big tobacco.”

In late July nearly 100 people rallied against the JUUL-backed petition at Flagpole Plaza; Flavors Addict Kids-Livermore will ask the council at its next meeting to uphold the ordinance and put it to a vote in March.

Previously, JUUL representatives said that a referendum will “give the voters a say on this critical matter of public health” while still giving adult smokers alternatives to traditional cigarettes.

"Our goal is to work constructively and cooperatively with Livermore city and community leaders on a responsible solution that prevents youth access to vapor products while providing reasonable access for adult smokers who seek an alternative to combustible cigarettes,” spokesman Ted Kwong said in a statement.

Pleasanton youths have taken a cue from the Livermore community and recently presented their own resolution to the Pleasanton school board, asking for support to warn and educate their peers about the health risks of vaping and flavored tobacco use.

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2 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Pheasant Ridge
on Sep 2, 2019 at 12:15 pm

Make no mistake, ask any school principal. Juul is beholden to it’s investors now. juul’s goal is to introduce vaping and nicotine addiction to every elementary, middle and high school student. (Yes is in elementary schools now.) under the guise that it is solely meant to ease adult smoking habit. The smoker population isnt enough profit for them, the future income, just like cigarettes, is in getting kids and young adults hooked. Many families are in distress. Kids who probably would have never touched a cigarette are now traveling down a bad of vaping bombarded with false advertising and youtube videos of young kids showing how cool it is. And the THC connection is a complete other conversation.

Like this comment
Posted by Doug S
a resident of Livermore
on Sep 3, 2019 at 7:22 am

First Joan, now JUUL. Lots of big money being thrown around to counter the residents right to govern.

Like this comment
Posted by Tom
a resident of Amador Estates
on Sep 3, 2019 at 2:27 pm

Your kids aren’t buying these product in store, they are buying it from online stores.

1 person likes this
Posted by Steve M
a resident of Sycamore Heights
on Sep 5, 2019 at 1:29 pm

Pleasanton needs a similar ban until the Assembly can enact one for the entire state. These products are poison aimed at our children. They have flavors like cotton candy, Bubble gum, marshmallow and lemonade and more addictive than heroin.

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