Attorney Joel Aurora, of the political law firm Nielsen Merksamer, submitted the referendum Friday at city hall. This is to strike down the Board of Supervisors’ ban on flavored tobacco, which passed unanimously in June. He has 30 days now to gather 19,040 signatures from San Francisco voters. This represents 10 percent of the vote count from the last mayoral election.
A spokesman for the group, Let’s Be Real San Francisco states “We think the Board of Supervisors is limiting freedom of choice for San Francisco voters” – Jaime Rojas. They also have a huge amount of supporters within the city and across the country. The law group represents an interesting mix backers. It contains the expected Tobacco manufacturers like R.J. Reynolds and Altria, as well as several vaping advocacy groups.
Surprisingly, it also contains the Arab American Grocers Association, whose members opposed the supervisors’ ordinance, saying it hurt immigrant business owners. The majority of shops that sell vaping or tobacco products have minority owners. Several owners also belong to Arab American Grocers Association who are stepping up to help fight for them to keep their livelihood.
All across the country, there has been a public outcry over this overreaching regulations. The fact that neighboring communities will still flavored products for sale and citizens can order them through mail order hurts local minority businesses. It also is very inconvenient residents who smoke or vape. This seems to be regressive for a city that is known to be progressive on so many other social issues.
Supervisor Malia Cohen, who sponsored the flavored tobacco ban, called the referendum a “ridiculous attempt to put profit over people’s health.” She added: “They know that children will stop picking up a lethal habit if we remove flavored tobacco from the market.”
Stop right here! What a load of rhetoric she just through out. There is no evidence this ban will stop any underage consumption. In fact, it will increase availability in the black market where they don’t ID. Also, most teens get their influences from peers, parents or family members. They also have friends who drive a few miles for them or who are older that buy for them.
The point is, you can’t control other people from obtaining what they want if they really want it. Removing products that are legal from sell in one area only, only pushes sales to another. It just creates hassles and the possibility of crime groups being able to profit from foolish laws. The voters also need to send a loud and clear message to these supervisors when they come up for re-election. Don’t pass laws that restrict freedoms and create other issues in the process for your citizens.
If Nielsen Merksamer gathers enough signatures to ratify the referendum measure, the ordinance would be suspended while supervisors will get a chance to reconsider their vote. They could decide either to repeal the ban. If not voters in June 2018 election will get to decide. Either way, it will send a clear message to the board that individual rights to choose matters.
The group Let’s Be Real San Francisco is stepping up and going into battle for vapors and the people. This ludicrous ban is not based on science but on feelings. Flavor bans really hurt those trying to quit smoking by vaping flavors in its place. Vapors can still buy unflavored products in the city but will have to take their money outside the city for flavors if this ban is not repealed.