Scotts Valley council bans sale of flavored tobacco

To reduce teens’ use of electronic cigarettes and other “vape” products, the Scotts Valley City Council on Wednesday banned the sale of flavored tobacco products in the city.

The sale of flavored tobacco has already been banned in the other three cities in Santa Cruz County as well as in unincorporated areas of the county.

Electronic cigarettes heat a flavored liquid with nicotine and flavorings into a vapor. They are the most commonly-used tobacco product among teens, according to the CDC. In 2018, the U.S. Surgeon General called e-cigarette use among youth “a public health epidemic.”

“There’s been numerous studies done that show that these are starter products for youth to begin smoking,” said Scotts Valley Police Capt. Jayson Rutherford, at Wednesday’s council meeting.

The council voted 5-0 to adopt the updated rules. “This is an epidemic,” said Councilmember Derek Timm. “Kids refer to the bathroom at the high school as the vape room.”

The new rules will also prohibit smoking or vaping in outdoor dining spaces.

Several residents at the meeting said they supported the proposed rules. “Banning flavored tobacco products is a critical step in breaking the cycle of nicotine addiction,” said Rachel Kippen, co-chair of Santa Cruz County Tobacco Education Coalition and an education consultant at the Santa Cruz County Office of Education. “Some students are consuming more than 50 milligrams of nicotine daily, which equals more than two packs worth of cigarettes.”

The council received opposition letters from representatives of Scotts Valley Gas & Mart and Scotts Valley Smoke Shoppe.

Jesse Kathan/Santa Cruz Local