The vote was unanimous this week in Sonoma. The City Council has officially approved the Tobacco Retailers Licensing Ordinance, which is essentially an indirect route to classifying ecigs as tobacco products and banning flavored ecigs and eliquids. That’s right… Sonoma vapers can kiss their Cotton Candy and Strawberry Crush flavors goodbye because they are now officially against local laws.
There was a lot of controversy leading up to the vote and Sonoma’s vapers tried hard to prevent the new ordinance from passing, but unfortunately, the Council members had already made up their minds. In hopes of keeping kids away from ecigs, they banned flavored eliquids. But in reality, that might just lead to a steep rise in smoking because the vast majority of vapers prefer to use flavored liquids. Those that continue vaping will likely take their business outside of the jurisdiction to get the flavors they really want.
Ecig retailers are the ones that will be most negatively impacted by this ordinance. They fought hard to try to prevent the City Council from dooming their businesses, but it just didn’t work. One local shop owner pointed out that adults enjoy the flavors that Council members allege are drawing in kids. “Do you like bubble gum? Do you like gummy bears? Do you like marshmallows? Yes! Adults want these flavors, not kids.”
In reality, kids DO like those flavors, but the majority of vape shops won’t even let a child or teenager come through the door. They are fiercely trying to protect the ecig industry rather than sell vaping gear to underage kids. They only sell the candy and dessert flavors to appeal to adults that enjoy them.
Some local citizens told Sonoma’s council members that it was unfair to attack ecigs and ignore the raging problem with teens and drinking. They pointed out that alcohol is a much more widespread problem among the city’s kids, but the Council members just were not interested.
It seems that the main reason that Sonoma City Council voted to ban flavored ecigs is because they look a lot like smoking and they just don’t want them around. But by the same argument, they should also ban water guns. It just doesn’t make sense. Ultimately, the City Council has made a tragic decision that will hurt local vapers and most of all, local ecig retailers.
Do you think other cities will take this approach in the near future? Are flavored eliquids in jeopardy nationwide?