Talk of banning flavored electronic cigarette refills has been around since around the beginning of the vaping boom, despite the fact that it makes absolutely no sense to ask that “flavored e-liquid” be banned given that e-liquid has no innate taste, so any e-liquid flavor, including tobacco, is some sort of additive. The thought underlying opposition to flavored e-liquid is that flavors are primarily aimed at youth, and in order to curb teen smoking we’ll have to ban all these candy flavors teens love so much. I’ve seen countless journalists at every level talk about how the fact that e-liquid flavors are called “Pink Bunny” or “Strawberry Milk” makes it clear that they’re intended for teenage use, since no adult in their right mind would ever even consider vaping something with such a juvenile name. Well, I suppose all of these people are much more adult than I, so kudos to them, I guess. That, or they’re stupidly hung up on not appearing to be childish and hate fun; or maybe they just feel like failures for having failed to prevent their own children from vaping and would prefer to shift the blame onto someone else.
In any case, for the most part, flavors have survived most restrictions on vaping, even as these restrictions have popped up everywhere around the US and worldwide. In Sonoma, California, however, a new measure that would ban the sale of flavored liquids among a number of new measures intended to further restrict vaping and smoking in the city of Sonoma itself recently passed its first vote. While the bill will need to go through a second vote in order to become law, prospects that it will fail are slim.
This new measure would make it such that new businesses opening in Sonoma would be altogether prohibited from selling tobacco products, with only existing tobacco retailers permitted to operate. Even more egregiously, the city’s ordinance would completely ban the sale of “flavored tobacco products,” which, by the city’s definition, would include flavored e-liquids. But that’s not even the end of it. The Sonoma measure also contains a provision requiring that “chewing tobacco be sold in packs of five or more tins,” according to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, as well as a provision prohibiting the sale of individual cigars priced at less than $5. I can’t really think of a more arbitrary law than this.
As usual, the cited motivations for this measure revolve around the mythical public health costs surrounding smoking, protecting the children, and all the other trite justifications we’ve seen before. “Adults can do what they want. The purpose of this is to make some of these products less attractive for kids,” claimed a Sonoma councilwoman who supported the measure, seemingly unaware that adults might sometimes want to do things she would never consider doing, like vaping strawberry milk flavored e-liquid. But, of course, as usual, these justifications make absolutely no sense, and we shouldn’t really expect them to. They are based on nothing but people’s imposition of their own moral standards on the rest of the population, and that’s that.
If you’re in Sonoma, this measure kind of sucks, but hey, you’ve still got the internet!