Lawmakers are taking the easy way out by going after the “low hanging fruit” to address youth’s increased usage of tobacco flavored products.
Cities around Los Angeles County are proposing ordinances that would ban retailers from selling flavored tobacco products which doesn’t adequately address the root of the problem which are continued education and closing loopholes in purchasing these products online.
Lawmakers, including Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) have enacted legislation, at the state level, to put more emphasis on educating our youth on the ills of tobacco flavored products.
AB 1696 passed in 2016, and spearheaded by Holden, to provide services under Medi-Cal, to provide medication to curb usage.
Simultaneously, Prop 56 passed in the same year which increased the excise tax on tobacco products to fund loan assistance programs for recent dental and medical graduate students. The ban on these products would drastically reduce those funds which are needed for professionals to address tobacco related issues.
Dentists and doctors are a crucial component of educating the youth on the dangers these products pose to their overall health and dental hygiene.
Local cities also benefitted from the passage of Prop 56 as they are able to apply for and receive funding to enforce compliance of laws pertaining to the sale and marketing of tobacco products.
The city of Inglewood was awarded $176,727 in November 2019, for these activities.
As the state continues to fund compliance of local brick and mortar retailers, those efforts would be enhanced through increased education of the dangers associated with tobacco use.
There are a multitude of tools available for local cities to utilize to create a comprehensive education program that collaborates in partnership with local school districts.
School districts successfully implemented D.A.R.E. programs to educate youths on the dangers of drugs and that program could be replicated, with support from local cities, to educate the youth about flavored tobacco products.
We continue to agree that addressing the surge in youth use of tobacco related products should not come at the cost of shutting down retail sales of the product and/or taking away the rights of legal age persons right to purchase.