Bay Area flavored tobacco bans appear to have won big Tuesday

- By Bay City News Service

Bans on flavored tobacco products appeared to win big on Tuesday, with San Mateo County supervisors unanimously approving a ban and San Francisco voters apparently upholding a ban in that city.

The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors at its Tuesday meeting approved prohibiting the sale or offer for sale of flavored tobacco products and prohibiting pharmacies from selling or offering tobacco for sale, a top aide to the board's president confirmed today.

"Flavored tobacco is a thinly veiled enticement to addict young people to tobacco and a real public health threat," Dave Pine, president of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, said in response to an email inquiry.

"By banning these products, our county joins a growing number of jurisdictions in protecting the health of young people," Pine said.

One of those jurisdictions appears to be San Francisco, based on preliminary results from Tuesday's election.

According to the preliminary results from the city's Department of Elections, Proposition E was approved by 68 percent of the voters.

The proposition would uphold the San Francisco Board of Supervisors' earlier unanimous vote to ban the products and other flavored tobacco, including menthol cigarettes.

Michael Bloomberg, the World Health Organization's global ambassador for noncommunicable diseases, praised the outcome of the San Francisco election.

"Banning the sale of flavored tobacco products marks an important step forward for public health in San Francisco-and it shows that the tobacco industry, no matter how much money it spends on misleading ads, can be defeated," Bloomberg said in a statement.

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