County of Marin - News Releases - Flavored Tobacco Products

For Immediate Release
October 25, 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 – The County of Marin is poised to pursue a local ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products, including vaping liquids and menthol cigarettes, in unincorporated areas.

Two hands are shown with a vaping product.Almost one third of Marin high school juniors are regularly vaping or using flavored tobacco in another way.
At its October 30 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 and e-cigarettes. The vote is scheduled to take place November 6 following a merit hearing.

The proposed ordinance follows the lead of several Bay Area cities and towns that have acted against flavored tobacco and vaping products in the past year, including San Francisco. It is being recommended by the Department of Health and Human Services. New data show that e-cigarette usage, known as vaping, has more than doubled in the past two years among Marin County seventh, ninth, and 11th graders. The largest increase was seen in the number of 11th graders who reported vaping regularly, from 11 percent to 28 percent.

“We’ve been working hard to raise awareness about the harms of tobacco and vaping, yet almost a third of Marin high school juniors are regularly using these harmful products that are highly addictive,” said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County Public Health Officer. “With such a rapid increase, it’s time for us to double down and take strong policy action.”

Tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States. Most regular tobacco users said they became addicted when they were young and that their first use of a tobacco product was flavored. Flavoring masks the harsh taste of regular tobacco and entices young people into regular smoking.

Smoking decreased in the United States between 2004 and 2014 but the use of menthol cigarettes increased. 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.

Dr. John Maa, President of the San Francisco Marin Medical Society, said there’s clear evidence that vaping increases the likelihood that young people will take up smoking.

“It can be a gateway to tobacco use, and flavored tobacco makes it that much easier,” Maa said. 

Addressing the consequences of smoking is 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.

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