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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

City attorney urges LA to ban hookah with flavored tobacco

LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer urged the city council on Thursday to ban the sale of all flavored tobacco, including hookah, instead of the current draft ordinance that excludes hookah from the ban.

The Los Angeles City Council on June 16 directed the city attorney to draft an ordinance to ban the sale of flavored tobacco and menthol cigarettes in the city, but exempt hookah tobacco products in existing smokers’ lounges.

“A complete ban on the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including flavored hookahs, in the city of Los Angeles has the potential to save lives,” Feuer said. He said 3.6 million children nationwide are using e-cigarettes, which he called the “gateway” to regular cigarettes.

“Kid-friendly tastes are driving this youth epidemic. Hookahs also come in a variety of sweet flavors to tempt kids, and I’m calling on the City Council to include the sale of flavored hookahs in this proposed ban. Any relaxation will not be enough to protect public health,” he said.

Feuer’s office cited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which reported that hookah smoke contains some of the same harmful chemicals as cigarettes, including nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide. He said that during a one-hour hookah session, people smoke 100 to 200 times as many cigarettes.

“Tobacco use accounts for nearly a third of cancer deaths in California,” Primo Castro, director of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network’s government relations, said Thursday at a news conference hosted by FUER, who is running for mayor of Los Angeles. “

Castro called the ordinance a “starting point” but urged council members to “quickly approve a comprehensive ordinance eliminating the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, cigars, menthol cigarettes and flavored shisha products.” and to adopt.”

Under the proposed ordinance, which was transmitted to the city council by the city attorney’s office this week, existing smoking lounges would be able to sell hookah products for on-site or off-site consumption, but not for the city’s 4,500 tobacco retail stores. sale will be banned. Aromatic tobacco, including hookah tobacco.

Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez, who proposed amending the original ordinance request to allow hookah products to be sold for off-site consumption as well as for on-site consumption in lounges, said she was interested in the impact on small business owners. who also rely on off-site activity for the sale of hookah products.

“It’s an adult activity, so it doesn’t allow young people to be exposed on these campuses,” she said. He proposed an amendment to exempt the sale of shisha, the tobacco used for hookah.

The amendment, which passed narrowly with 8 yes votes and 6 no votes, faced demands from the National Hookah Community Association for the city to exempt the ordinance as the city council called hookah a cultural tradition. fell.

Arni Abramian, president of the National Hookah Community Association, urged council members to exempt hookah from a potential ordinance at a city council meeting in June.

“Many small immigrant business owners – Armenian, Lebanese, Persian, Egyptian, all Middle Eastern – more than 1,000 homes will go out of business … respect our culture and respect our small immigrant businesses,” he said.

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Councilman Paul Krekorian, who is of Armenian descent, attempted to counter the argument that hookah is a cultural tradition during a June 16 city council meeting.

“There has been a lot of discussion about hookah and its cultural importance to some immigrant communities, and I must say that the argument has bothered me a lot because I have never smoked hookah; my family members, my Armenian extended family, hookah Don’t drink. Armenian culture is defined by its music and its art and its literature and its faith… it is not defined by hookah,” Krakorian said at the meeting.

“In my view, the way you protect Armenian culture… Armenian youth are not allowed to die prematurely from smoking-related death.”

The Los Angeles City Council was initially determined to include an exemption in the ban for menthol cigarettes, but three Black councilmen on the city council, Mark Ridley-Thomas, Marquis Harris-Dawson, and Karen Price, approved the exemption for menthol cigarettes. An amendment was proposed for removal. , citing the high rate of black people smoking menthol cigarettes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the tobacco industry has “aggressively marketed menthol products to young people and African Americans, especially in urban communities.” Amendment 14 passed with a yes vote and one was absent.

“History has clearly shown us the harmful effects menthol cigarettes have had on the African American community in particular. It is up to us to prevent the recurrence of such racial injustice and health inequalities,” said Ridley-Thomas of the city council. said during the meeting.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in October 2019 to adopt an ordinance banning flavored tobacco products, including menthol, and calling on Governor Gavin Newsom to pass a statewide ban on vaping.

On August 28, California became the second state in the country, after Massachusetts, to pass a statewide ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products. Tobacco manufacturers and retailers have challenged several laws and ordinances, but in every case so far, courts have upheld the ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products, finding them constitutional and in line with the Tobacco Control Act.

Tobacco use is the number 1 preventable killer in the United States, resulting in more deaths than people who die from alcohol, AIDS, car accidents, illegal drugs, homicide and suicide – combined.

Every day, thousands of young people will use a tobacco product for the first time, and many of those tobacco products will be flavored. In California alone, 36.5% of high school students report using tobacco products. According to the California Attorney General’s Office, 86.4% of them reporting using a flavored product filed a brief in the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in support of a Los Angeles County ordinance banning the sale of flavored tobacco products. did.

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