San Francisco Says No to Menthol

SAN FRANCISCO — Starting next April, adult tobacco consumers may not be able to purchase menthol tobacco products in the Bay City.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously voted in favor of a measure to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products — including menthol cigarettes — at city retail outlets, according to the San Francisco Examiner. The move still needs to be approved on second reading and signed into law by Mayor Ed Lee.

"We want to enhance our prevention strategies," San Francisco Supervisor Malia Cohen said at the final vote on June 20. "The goal of this ordinance is to keep people from smoking in the first place."

Cohen introduced the legislation on April 18. Supervisor Ahsha Safai‏ co-sponsored the ordinance, which has been endorsed bythe mayor, as CSNews Onlinepreviously reported.

According to the Small Business Commission, there are approximately 726 local retailers — mostly convenience stores and gas stations — that sell tobacco products. Small businesses opposed the legislation citing concerns about the effect on their bottom lines and the possibility that customers would turn to stores in other towns to buy tobacco products.

In light of the concerns, Cohen amended the legislation to have it go into effect in April 2018, four months after the initially proposed Jan. 1. She also said she would support increased city funding to help small stores transition their business models under the Healthy Food Retail program, the news outlet reported.

In the Banning the Sale of Flavored Tobacco Products: Economic Impact Report, the Office of Economic Analysis has estimated the value of flavored tobacco cigarettes that would be affected by the legislation at approximately $50 million per year.

To read the full report, click here.

The proposed new law does not criminalize the possession or use of flavored tobacco, only its sale by retailers within the city. Any retailers violating the ban faces the potential suspension of its tobacco sales permit.