County of Marin - News Releases - Flavored Tobacco and Vaping

For Immediate Release
September 10, 2018

County Considers Ban on Flavored Tobacco and Vaping Products

If approved, such products could not be sold in unincorporated areas of Marin

San Rafael, CA – Since e-cigarettes and flavored tobacco products are proven to entice young people into occasional use and often subsequent daily use, the County of Marin is pursuing a local ban on the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored e-cigarette products in unincorporated areas.

Three young boys walk in front of a market that has tobacco advertising in the windows.More than 80 percent of minors who smoke daily reported that their first use of a tobacco product was flavored to mask the harsh taste of regular tobacco. (California Department of Public Health photo)
At its September 11 meeting, the Marin County Board of Supervisors will consider adding a chapter to the Marin County Code with the first reading of an ordinance prohibiting the sale of flavored tobacco products. If the first reading is approved, the Board would schedule a September 18 merit hearing for presentation and public comment.

If the ordinance is adopted by the Board, it would go into effect 30 days later and a violation would be a considered a public nuisance. The ban would not affect sales in Marin’s incorporated towns and cities.

Tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States, and most tobacco users said they became addicted when they were underage. Today, 81 percent of minors who smoke daily reported that their first use of a tobacco product was flavored to mask the harsh taste of regular tobacco. Nationwide, smoking decreased in the United States between 2004 and 2014 but the use of menthol cigarettes increased among both young adults (ages 18-25) and other adults (ages 26 and over). Statistics show that smoking menthol cigarettes reduces the likelihood of successfully quitting smoking. Electronic smoking devices offer flavors such as cotton candy, bubble gum, vanilla and honey while introducing nicotine to younger users.

John Maa is President of the San Francisco Marin Medical Society and the Chief of General and Acute Care Surgery at Marin General Hospital. He noted that in 2016 the California Healthy Kids Survey found that 39 percent of Marin County 11th graders had tried an e-cigarette.

“And we’re hearing from parents and schools that even more kids are taking it up,” Maa said. “There’s good evidence that teens who use e-cigarettes are more likely to start smoking conventional cigarettes. San Francisco residents voted to ban menthol and flavored tobacco products in June, and now is the time for Marin to take this measure to protect our community.”

Addressing the consequences of smoking is also a financial burden to Marin residents. A county-by-county report by University of California researchers found that the overall annual cost of tobacco smoking to residents of Marin was $138,354,000, considering health care expenses and loss of productivity.

The educational campaign behind the proposed policy was launched by the Smoke-Free Marin Coalition, which for 28 years has been a credible resource to Marin policy-makers in adopting public health protections that prevent youth nicotine addiction, help smokers quit and keep communities free from second hand smoke. The Smoke-Free Marin Coalition helped most Marin jurisdictions raise their American Lung Association Report Card grades from F to A on Tobacco Retailer Licensing programs (which stop youth tobacco access), smoke-free multi-unit housing, and outdoor public areas.

Because of the work of the Smoke-Free Marin Coalition, Marin has helped raise public health standards for other California communities especially in protecting youth from clever marketing to addictive health-damaging products.

Marin HHS’ Tobacco Prevention Services Office allocates state and local dollars to deliver tobacco education programs to Marin residents. The office seeks to limit the harm of tobacco and related products, collaborating closely with law enforcement, the Marin County Office of Education, the Smoke Free Marin Coalition and other community groups.


Dr. Matthew Willis
Public Health Officer
Health and Human Services

3240 Kerner Blvd.
San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 473-4163
Email: Dr. Matthew Willis
Marin HHS website