While a statewide ban on the sale of flavored tobacco in California looms on the horizon—along with a potential ballot referendum that could overturn it—the city of Mill Valley has passed its own ban on the sale of such items, becoming the last municipality in Marin County with tobacco retailers to enact such a ban.
On Monday, the city council approved an ordinance by a 4-1 vote that will make it illegal to sell or otherwise distribute flavored tobacco products and flavored e-cigarettes. Additionally, the ordinance includes a ban on the sale of hookah tobacco, which was determined not to have a local cultural bearing, and makes it illegal to sell tobacco products of any kind at pharmacies.
The ban is scheduled to go into effect on May 5, 2021, giving retailers a chance to sell off existing inventory.
The city’s ordinance does not make it illegal for persons to possess such products, nor does it have a law that makes it illegal for a person under 21—the statewide minimum age to purchase tobacco and nicotine products—to possess them.
Meanwhile, a ballot referendum proposal was submitted in early September that could send the state’s ban to the ballot for voters to decide whether or not to keep, though it would not affect bans passed at the city or county level. Organizers have until November 26 to submit the required number of signatures for verification. If that happens, the question would appear on the November 2022 ballot and the ban would be prevented from going into effect until that time. If the referendum fails to qualify for the ballot, the state’s ban would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2021.
Mill Valley is home to just over 14,000 residents and located approximately 15 miles north of San Francisco.