The three Hayward councilmembers who proposed regulations on flavored tobacco and vaping products last month are each up for re-election next year.
Hayward Councilmembers Al Mendall, Francisco Zermeño, and Elisa Márquez will undoubtedly use any new restrictions on teenage vaping as a feather in their caps during next year’s fall campaign.
But it’s notable that the fourth incumbent also up for re-election to the Hayward City Council next year was cut out of the action when it comes the referral.
Councilmember Mark Salinas is the strongest and most consistent opponent of nearly every type of smoking. From tobacco, vaping to cannabis, Salinas has been unequivocal on the issue.
Salinas has often noted it’s far easier to purchase cigarettes from the city’s large number of tobacco and alcohol retailers than it is to find a grocery store selling fresh produce.
Last year, Salinas was the only member of the Hayward City Council to oppose approval of cannabis businesses and dispensaries in the city. He went as far to publicly challenge his council colleagues over the issue and warned any negative fallout from the approval of dispensaries in Hayward would rest at their feet, not his.
“Cannabis coming to Hayward is falling squarely on the seven of us–or, on the six of them, said Salínas.
Last month, Salinas suggested the councilmembers behind the flavored tobacco referral were acting hypocritically. The real problem for youth is cannabis, he said, citing state statistics on its use among Hayward teens.
“For somebody who has been here a very long time talking about not only vaping, and other issues that have negatively impacted kids, I wanted to point some thing out to my colleagues as an example of keeping our eye on the ball,” Salinas said. “Given the data, we are completely missing the mark,” he added.
So, long story short. Why did the three councilmembers not include Salinas in the referral? Simple. They don’t like him.
Salinas noted as much in a remarkable example of public candor during a contentious council meeting last March that also highlighted perceived slights by the council against its newest member, Aisha Wahab. “Make no mistake about it. We don’t work together,” Salinas said.