A 2023 ban on the sale of flavored tobacco will take effect in the city of Los Angeles after a unanimous vote by the city council.

While there will be some wiggle room for existing hookah lounges, the ban on sale of flavored electronic cigarettes, menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars at retail stores will begin January 1, 2023, pending Mayor Eric Garcetti’s signature.

Despite attempts from tobacco companies to exclude menthol cigarettes from the ban, Councilman Mitch O’Farrell said they too would be included in the new law.

“The city of Los Angeles takes a strong stand in protecting our youth. Tobacco and nicotine addiction kill. Period,” O’Farrell said during Wednesday’s Los Angeles city council meeting. “Big tobacco long ago targeted Black and Native American communities and the high rates of nicotine addiction and lung related illness and death in these communities are part of a sinister targeted marketing practice.”

The council claimed tobacco companies “target” minorities and low-income communities with its advertising and attempt to persuade younger demographics with flavored products.

“Tobacco has a problem,” Koretz said. “They keep killing off their customers and so they have to replace them quickly and at a young age to remain profitable.”

In 2019, Los Angeles County passed a similar ordinance affecting unincorporated areas, which did not include the city of Los Angeles.

In 2020, California enforced an order against the sale of flavored tobacco products, but it was temporarily suspended, with major tobacco manufacturers such as Phillip Morris USA and R.J. Reynolds funding a push to have the order repealed through the 2022 California election.

Most recently, in September of 2021, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer called for the council to include hookah in any future flavored tobacco ban.

“Hookah also comes in a variety of sweet flavors to entice kids, and I’m calling on the City Council to include sales of flavored hookah in this proposed ban,” Feuer said in a 2021 written statement. “Any exemption would not do enough to protect public health.”

Ultimately, the council worried of a potentially negative impact on small businesses and excluded hookah lounges from its ordinance.

(Featured photo by user Fried Dough/Flickr)

Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.