East San Jose City Councilwoman Magdalena Carrasco is pushing for a local ban on e-cigarrettes and flavored tobacco products not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“While we have combated the rise in cigarette use, vaping companies have been successful in recapturing their audience through the use of flavored products that are marketed towards children,” Carrasco said in a statement.
In a memo to the council, Carrasco asks for ordinances that will limit local tobacco sales near schools and “other youth-sensitive areas,” and for a change in the city’s municipal code to prohibit tobacco retailers from selling products to people under 21, which is the required age to buy tobacco products in California.
An August report from the Santa Clara County Public Health Department outlines the increased use of e-cigarettes with teens, also called vapes, throughout the county and statewide.
The report said 1 in 3 of the county’s surveyed teens had tried vaping, with 13 percent of the same group reporting using vapes at the time. The overwhelming majority of those teens, or about 82 percent, used flavored products, according to the report.
Carrasco is aiming to crack down on youthful vape use, citing the county’s report and pointing to recent news of six supposedly vape-related deaths in the United States this year (as of Sept. 13) as the smoking gun.
“Communities with lower household income, more single parent households, less education and more children in poverty have higher concentrations of tobacco retailers such as downtown and East San Jose,” Carrasco continued in her memo.
“Flavored tobacco products are intentionally marketed towards youth and communities of color. Higher concentrations of tobacco retailers increase youth exposure and access to tobacco products, leading to higher rates of tobacco use among youth.”
The county Office of Education’s Superintendent of Schools, Mary Ann Dewan, said she is “very concerned about the use of e-cigarretes and vaping products by youth” in endorsing Carrasco’s proposed ban.
“It is a health crisis in our schools and communities,” Dewan continued. “Youth are experiencing health consequences such as increased anxiety, seizures, illness, and withdrwawal symptopms appearing during the school day.”
Carrasco’s also hopes the ban will benefit smokers and vapers who are trying to quit tobacco and nicotine by proposing that new tobacco retailers be restricted to opening stores 500 feet away from existing tobacco shops.