SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - On Tuesday, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors (SBCBS) will consider banning flavored tobacco products in unincorporated areas of the county.
This is just the latest in a series of proposed flavored tobacco bans being considered across the Central and South Coasts. The most recent ban was just approved in Santa Maria and now unincorporated areas in Santa Barbara County may be following suit.
The Board of Supervisors will vote on a proposed ban of all flavored tobacco products including menthol cigarettes. It would only affect unincorporated areas of the county.
"This is probably not going to ban everything. There will probably be some underground products, but at the hearing tomorrow I feel in my heart the right thing to do is to move forward and make the products difficult to get for kids," said 5th District SBCBS Steve Lavagnino.
The decision on banning the products comes after the Public Health Department reported 80% of kids who use tobacco started with a flavored product.
"It's not going to be as effective as they think, I mean people are still going to smoke so it doesn't really change anything," said Cigarette Shack Manager Kelsey Baldwin.
Supporters believe the ban will make it harder for minors to get the products that many argue are packaged and marketed toward kids.
"It's interesting to see the tobacco companies say these are not intended for kids, but the names of the products are like cookies and cream, fruit loops, pop tarts, they are not something that would appeal to a 55-year-old," said Lavagnino.
This comes after a wave of vaping related illnesses were reported in the U.S.
The Center for Disease Control says 42 people have died from vaping complications. But smoke shop owners say those were a result of black market devices.
"The vapes that people get from our shop are regulated, a lot of them are FDA approved, they have the licensing permits, which means they are not at risk," said Baldwin.
Some smokers say the flavored products helped them get off cigarettes.
"For every one adult that gets off of smoking through an E-Cigarette, 81 teenagers gravitate toward an E-Cigarette," said Lavagnino.
The meeting will be held at 9 a.m. in Santa Barbara at the County Administration Building.