Contributed by Saving Our Legacy for African Americans For Smoke Free Safe Places – The SOL Project (http://www.thesolproject.com)

The tobacco industry has been targeting Black communities, the poor and underserved neighborhoods, as well as youth, to hook them with flavored tobacco products and vape products. Many cities and counties are protecting their residents by limiting access by stopping the sale of flavored tobacco and vape products. SOL has been educating the public and government officials about health issues developed from using these products.

The SOL Project staff has been instrumental working across the Gold Country Region with elected officials (Council Members and Board of Supervisors) passing tobacco policies. Earlier this year (January 1, 2020) the City of Sacramento prohibited the sale of flavored tobacco products (including flavored e-cigarette cartridges and menthol). Currently, code enforcement has been working to ensure all retailers are in compliance with the policy. This has triggered other counties and cities to follow suit. Unincorporated County of Sacramento and San Joaquin and the Cities of Elk Grove, West Sacramento and Woodland are working to adopt similar policies.

Twlia Laster, SOL Project Director, conducted a presentation for Elk Grove City Council on February 26th and it was well received. SOL is working with Elk Grove to provide additional technical assistance and support.

Due to the City of Sacramento’s new policy and concern that retailers would flood the City of Elk Grove, the City Council of Elk Grove expressed the need to review their current tobacco retail regulation and strengthened it. Some of the topics to be addressed were revising the definitions of tobacco products to expressly include vape products and vapor smoking devices; increasing penalties for violations of local laws; and reviewing licensing fees and licensee restrictions.

Elk Grove passed an ordinance to create a moratorium against any new tobacco or vape retailers from applying for a license for 45 days. Following a public hearing, the Council may extend the moratorium for an additional 10 months and could extend it for another year. A moratorium is a delay or suspension of a law, meaning the city will stop giving out permits for tobacco shops. But the overall goal is to have a stronger policy that is comprehensive, and includes restricting the sale of all flavored tobacco and vape products, creating a 1,000-foot buffer around places where youth congregate so that tobacco products cannot be sold, and updating the definition of “tobacco products” in smoke-free outdoor air policies to include electronic cigarettes, and other plant based products.

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