LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors today unanimously voted its intent to approve a ban on flavored tobacco products, including menthol, despite protests by dozens of tobacco business owners and advocates who support vaping and e-cigarettes as aids to quitting smoking.
Groups from both sides of the issue tried to shout each other down while awaiting entry to the downtown Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration. Those against the ban — which would apply only to retailers in unincorporated areas of the county — carried signs reading “I Vape, I Vote,” while many proponents wore black T-shirts identifying themselves as “United Families and Parents.”
Supervisor Janice Hahn, who chairs the Board, repeatedly warned the audience to respect other speakers and threatened more than once to clear the Board room in the wake of shouts and cheers. More than 300 people signed up to speak on the issue.
“As you can tell, there’s a lot of passion around this issue,” Hahn told the crowd. The ordinance needs to come back to the board for a second reading, as early as next week, and would take effect 30 days after that second vote.
Tobacco retailers would then have 180 days, under an amendment proposed by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, to obtain new licenses required under the ordinance and to clear their shelves of flavored tobacco products.
Online sales would not be prohibited and users would not be punished under the ordinance, according to Judy Whitehurst, senior assistant county counsel.