This week, the Napa City Council passed the first reading of an agenda item that will reform a number of aspects of tobacco consumption, namely banning the sale of flavored tobacco products, prohibiting smoking in city parks, raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21-years-old, banning of the sale of tobacco products via a vending machine or other self-service display, and expanding the definition of smoking to include e-cigarettes and vaping.
The ban on smoking in city parks is fairly straightforward, if notable as it does not prohibit the use of all forms of tobacco. The age increase is procedural to bring the city’s law in line with the state’s law, which went into effect in June 2016.
Meanwhile, the proposal to ban flavored tobacco products, both traditional and newer products such as e-cigarettes, vaping devices and liquids, is a bit more controversial. It would apply to both mint and menthol as well as flavors including candy, fruit, alcoholic beverages, spices and more.
The proposal and first vote on it comes as both Los Angeles County and Edina, Minn. have had complaints filed against them by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, American Snuff Company, LLC, and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company, Inc., who allege that such bans are prohibited by federal law. Specifically, they cite the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, the 2009 federal law which empowers the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco products, which they claim contains language that prohibits state and local governments from enacting and standards or laws that either differ from or add on to federal law.
The plaintiffs go on to say that local bans on flavored tobacco stand as an obstacle to the purposes of federal law, which are to promulgate tobacco product standards that can be used at the national level. Their lawsuit say that Congress and FDA have already established that “certain tobacco products, particularly menthol cigarettes, should remain available to adult users of tobacco products.”
Both of the proposed changes must still go through a second reading and vote, which is yet to be scheduled. The council has a special meeting scheduled for July 7, while its next regular meeting is scheduled for July 21. If the proposal passes its second reading, the changes would go into effect 30 days later, subject to any legal challenges.