Fremont is the latest in a growing number of cities considering a ban on all favored tobacco products, after mounting concerns that these types of products pose a major health risk and target young people.
The ban, which needs to pass one more city council vote to go into effect, would include e-cigarettes, menthol cigarettes and flavored cigarillos.
Walmart has recently announced that it will stop selling e-cigarettes at its stores in the U.S., but local smoke shop owners in Fremont worry that they may not be able to stay afloat if the ban passes.
“We’re stuck in leases. We have very high rent,” said Raj Patel, a local smoke shop owner.
“We’re going to have to get rid of 50% of the things in my store…we’re going to have to get rid of our inventory in six weeks, and this is all the products we sell that are getting banned, which makes it harder for us,” Patel said. He said part of the issue is that the ban doesn’t just cover vape products, but other flavored tobacco products too.
Fremont officials believe it’s becoming more difficult to protect the health of kids, which is why they voted to ban the flavored products.
“We were hearing from our people services advisers that it was getting to reach epidemic proportions at our schools,” said Suzanne Shenfil, director of Human Services in Fremont. “Not just high schools but even in our middle schools.”
The Food and Drug Administration has called vaping an epidemic amongst young people, blaming it for lung disease and death nationwide. Livermore, San Leandro and San Francisco have already passed bans on flavored tobacco products.
Local resident Jasmine Lindberg said she doesn’t believe a ban like this will make any difference.
“I feel like kids are going to do bad things no matter how many bans they put on it, and a lot of times putting bans on it makes it feel like it’s cooler than it is,” she said.
If the Fremont ban passes in an October city council vote it will go into effect in November.