Los Angeles targets flavoured tobacco, waterpipe companies are upset-Los Angeles Times

2021-11-25 09:40:54 By : Mr. Andy song

In front of the pale tower of Los Angeles City Hall, Janet Azhand gave a passionate speech in Persian, and nearby hookah dealers held up signs urging officials to “save the hookah” and “protect our culture” ".

"Hookah is not an electronic cigarette," Azande, who works in the hookah lounge, later told reporters in English. "They don't understand."

In Los Angeles, efforts to remove sweet, mint or fruit-flavored tobacco products on store shelves have been opposed by waterpipe sellers, who believe it may undermine the traditions of Armenians, Arabs and other communities that value waterpipes. The center of parties and celebrations.

According to the proposal, Los Angeles can prohibit companies from selling many flavored tobacco products, a move designed to prevent teenagers from becoming addicted to nicotine. A coalition of youth and public health advocates who support the ban believes that flavored products attract more young people to use tobacco, including e-cigarettes.

A year and a half ago, City Councillor Mitch O'Farrell said at an urban hearing that the fruity, sweet and smooth flavors are "new and attractive for children to become obsessed with nicotine." Force transmission system". "This is evil. There is no doubt about it."

The last time I heard about this issue in the City Hall was a year ago. Members of Parliament suggested that some flavored tobacco be allowed to be sold on-site in the lounge for consumption, but the waterpipe seller said that the plan is still too strict and does not allow the lounge to be passed on to future generations. . It also does not allow people to buy hookah tobacco to smoke at home.

Hrant Vatzbedian, executive director of the National Waterpipe Community Association, said that for Muslims who do not drink for religious reasons, “they cannot go to bars and socialize.” Vatzbedian said, “the hookah lounge is a safe place for them”— -New immigrants can make friends, look for work here, and may even meet a future spouse.

At the last hearing, due to concerns about unfairly affecting black consumers, council members also recommended that some menthol cigarettes be exempted, and they are most likely to smoke products flavored with menthol compounds.

On Tuesday morning, when waterpipe sellers gathered outside the city hall, groups opposed to the ban on menthol cigarettes rallied nearby, holding slogans that read "an exemption for an exemption" and "waterpipe is a culture... isn't menthol?" . Rev. Williams Smart, chairman and CEO of the Southern California Christian Leadership Conference, believes that it is unfair to ban menthol, which black smokers like, while allowing other cigarettes to continue to be sold.

"The ban on menthol is singling out people of color," said Olivia Barbour, a 71-year-old resident of the Westmont community. "If they care about our health so much, then ban them all"-all kinds of tobacco, she said.

Addicted to menthol: Big Tobacco’s goal of targeting black communities may end soon

The proposed ban on menthol cigarettes highlights the long-standing racial inequality in one of the most notorious public health problems in American society.

Supporters of the proposed ban, including the American Cancer Society’s advocacy group, oppose any exemptions for menthol or waterpipe tobacco, insisting that a total ban on flavored tobacco is needed to prevent youth from becoming addicted.

Primo J. Castro, spokesperson for the Los Angeles area of ​​the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, said: "Candy, fruit and mint-flavored products are tempting children to indulge in tobacco for life." "We need to take action. Act boldly to deal with this pandemic. We need to get rid of flavored tobacco on store shelves-all flavors and all products."

Although some community groups oppose the discriminatory ban of menthol, others believe that the real problem is the tobacco industry’s predation of black consumers. Pastor John Cager of Ward AME Church stated that the so-called concerns about fairness are a "scarecrow argument" that "big tobacco companies want to use as a distraction."

"There is a view that targeting a product that kills black people is racist," said Akili, a long-time activist of the same name who serves as a project coordinator for corporate accountability. "This is not to single out black smokers. This is about an industry that targets black smokers... It has devastating results."

Many cities and counties in California have passed restrictions on the sale of flavored tobacco, including San Francisco, West Hollywood, and Long Beach. The decision to draft such a law in Los Angeles is scheduled to be submitted to the city council on Wednesday, as a California law on such products is shelved, and a state referendum backed by the tobacco industry is now preparing to vote.

Waterpipe companies argue that the Los Angeles law should reflect the California Act passed last year, which allows retailers that comply with state law to sell "flavored waterpipe tobacco products."

Hookahs are "3 feet. They are difficult to hide. You won't see hookahs being confiscated in schools," said Rima Khoury, general counsel of fumari, a shisha tobacco manufacturer. "It's hard to understand how cultural traditions are erased in the name of saving children, and this is not even a problem for teenagers."

Afif El-Hasan, a national spokesperson for the American Lung Association, countered that compared to lighting cigarettes, waterpipes cause more nicotine exposure and pose the same risks to attract sweet-tasting children. A study found that about a quarter of college students who have ever used nicotine products started using hookah. Another study found that teenagers report that they like to use hookah because it has a taste they like.

“Kids don’t sneak hookahs into the bathroom at school,” he said. “But the reality is that using this product can cause nicotine addiction, which may cause people to get other sources of nicotine between meetings.”

According to the city government, tobacco companies including Reynolds American, Swedish Match and Altria have spent more than US$500,000 on lobbying and related expenditures for the proposed rules since the beginning of 2020.

Kaelan Hollon, a spokesperson for Reynolds, said the company is “committed to keeping tobacco products out of the hands of young people” but believes that the fragrance ban “shows unintended consequences”. A statistical analysis found that the fragrance ban in San Francisco was related to the recent increase in smoking among high school students, while the smoking rate among teenagers in school districts that did not have a fragrance ban declined during the same period.

In turn, Tobacco Free Children and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network spent more than $300,000 in the same period to advance the proposed ban, including consulting fees.

Lisa Lu, the national youth ambassador of the Tobacco Free Children Movement, believes that flavored tobacco promotes tobacco use among young people because it is "very attractive to young children." In one study, the vast majority of young people who reported having used tobacco said that they started with something that tasted.

"It makes it look harmless," Lu said, mentioning flavors such as marshmallows and smoothies. "This eliminates to some extent the common harms associated with tobacco."

Menthol is also associated with greater difficulty in quitting smoking. According to a study published in 2016, younger smokers are more likely to use menthol cigarettes than older consumers.

As federal and state restrictions on flavored tobacco continue to change, Los Angeles is debating a possible ban. In April, the US Food and Drug Administration announced that it would ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. Last year, California lawmakers voted for a statewide ban on many flavored tobacco products, but the law signed by Governor Gavin Newsom was shelved after obtaining a referendum to vote in November 2022.

West Hollywood bans the sale of most flavored tobacco products

The West Hollywood City Council voted to ban the sale of all flavored tobacco products except waterpipes, which are used for waterpipes.

At the final hearing on the Los Angeles proposal, some residents believed that banning menthol would lead to more black convictions. City Arti. Mike Feuer emphasized that any LA ban will apply to the sale of such products, not their use.

Nevertheless, the Council Committee decided to exempt some menthol cigarettes from the proposed ban, allowing them to continue to be sold in retail stores that only sell tobacco products. O'Farrell suggested that they also develop an exemption for any existing "legally-operated smoker lounges", allowing them to sell flavored tobacco for on-site consumption.

Sellers of waterpipe tobacco argue that this exemption is not legally feasible for lounges and that it is unfair to prohibit the transfer of licenses to sell flavored tobacco in waterpipe lounges.

Arnie Abramyan, President of the National Waterpipe Community Association. The owner of the Tujunga hookah lounge complained that according to the rule, “when I die, the business also dies with me.”

Wednesday’s vote is not the last step: if the city council votes to draft the proposed ban, it will be drafted by city lawyers and returned to the city council for approval.

For reports and exclusive analysis by Bureau Chief John Myers, please get our California Political Newsletter.

You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.

Emily Alpert Reyes reports on public health for the Los Angeles Times.

How a wealthy thief earned millions of dollars from the Coachella resort she never built

The 26 best holiday lighting in Los Angeles and surrounding areas

Shop for the perfect holiday gift at these 42 stores you can only find in Los Angeles

How St. Louis defeated the NFL on the court and won billions after losing the Rams

How a wealthy thief earned millions of dollars from the Coachella resort she never built

The 26 best holiday lighting in Los Angeles and surrounding areas

Shop for the perfect holiday gift at these 42 stores you can only find in Los Angeles

How St. Louis defeated the NFL on the court and won billions after losing the Rams

The 2022 Grammy nomination is full of snubs and surprises

Los Angeles Police Department responds to apparent robbery in Westfield Topanga Mall

Beverly Hills Police arrested suspects in connection with a series of recent robberies

The lawsuit is against a law that allows transgender prisoners to choose their place of residence based on their gender identity

Los Angeles firefighters accused of "despicable behavior" in protest against vaccine regulations

Investigation Finds Mayor of San Bernardino Misuse of Public Funds