On Tuesday night, San Jose became the largest city in California to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products, as the city council unanimously passed an ordinance that targets menthol cigarettes and flavored e-cigarettes, but will also effect some flavored cigars based on price.
An exemption in the ordinance protects premium cigars from the ban, though the city defines a premium cigar as having a wholesale price of no less than $12, which means that its retail price is generally greater than $24, and often significantly higher once taxes are added into the price. Additionally, the cigars must be handmade, not use mechanization in its manufacturing, has a wrapper made entirely from whole tobacco leaf, must be capped by hand and must not have a filter, tip or non-tobacco mouthpiece.
Also gaining an exemption was flavored loose leaf tobacco and shisha tobacco, provided the retailer does not allow anyone under 21-years-old to be present on the business’s premises at any time.
The ordinance also places restrictions on where new tobacco retailers may open, requiring new stores to be at least 1,000 feet from schools, parks, libraries and community recreation centers, and at least 500 feet from any existing tobacco retailer.
The city is giving existing retailers until June 30, 2022 to sell through their existing inventory before the ban goes into full effect. The city has announced that it will conduct a review of the ban’s effectiveness one year after its implementation, and could remove the exemptions that it created.
The ban comes as a similar ban passed by the state legislature awaits its fate, as it will be decided by voters during the November 2022 election. While the state’s ban is on pause, cities and counties are able to pass their own bans.
The council was also slated to vote on a full smoking ban within apartments where there are three or more units, but delayed the vote until next month for further review of the proposal.
San Jose is home to approximately 1.028 million residents.