Over the past year, East Bay cities such as Oakland, Richmond, Livermore, Alameda, and San Leandro have moved toward some type of restriction on the sale of flavored tobacco products, including those used for vaping.
“We have all seen it nationally, and here in Hayward, the epidemic of teen vaping that is just growing and growing,” said Hayward Councilmember Al Mendall. “It’s happening in the schools. It’s happening in classrooms, for crying out loud.”
Mendall, along with Councilmembers Francisco Zermeño and Elisa Márquez, sponsored a broadly-worded council referral unanimously approved by the council Tuesday night. The referral directs city staff to revisit Hayward’s rules and regulations pertaining to tobacco and vape sales.
Despite the large number of media reports recently detailing the serious effects of vaping, including death in some cases, several East Bay cities have long ago delved into the issue of flavored tobacco and children.
Alameda, for example, approved a ban on flavored tobacco last December. Last summer, Livermore followed San Francisco in banning the sale of vaping products altogether.
Councilmember Mark Salinas, citing recent news reports about the dangers of vaping, said, “Lungs are exploding. We’re seeing esophaguses completely collapsing.”
Although, Salinas supported the referral and urged for it to be expedited by staff, he again highlighted what he believes is the city council’s hypocrisy when it comes to smoking and youth in Hayward, particularly when it comes to cannabis.
“On one hand, we will do these great policy initiatives around cannabis,” Salinas said, referring to the city’s recently approved cannabis ordinances, which he strongly opposed. He added, “What is really impacting kids is weed.”
Hayward already limits the sale of flavored tobacco for retailers near schools. Possibly expanding the same restriction is part of the council referral, in addition, to greater monitoring tobacco and vaping sales to the youth.