Menlo Park ban on flavored tobacco, vaping devices effective Jan. 17 | News | Almanac Online |


Menlo Park ban on flavored tobacco, vaping devices effective Jan. 17

The sale and distribution of vaping devices has been banned by the Menlo Park City Council. The ordinance is set to take effect Jan. 17. (Stock image by Getty Images)

In an effort to curb what's been declared an epidemic of vaping among young people in the area, the Menlo Park City Council voted unanimously on Dec. 17 to adopt an ordinance banning the sale of vaping devices and flavored tobacco citywide, effective Jan. 17.

Across San Mateo County, electronic cigarette use among high school students was reported by the California Student Tobacco Survey to be 20.8%, nearly twice the statewide prevalence of 10.9%.

Furthermore, about 86% of teens who do use tobacco products use flavored ones, and more than 80% of them who use tobacco start with flavored tobacco, according to national research cited in the city ordinance.

Similar bans were approved in early November by supervisors of San Mateo and Santa Clara counties to cover unincorporated county areas, and the Palo Alto City Council on Dec. 9 directed staff to prepare an ordinance that would ban vaping device sales in that city.

The ban also aligns with a Nov. 19 recommendation by the American Medical Association calling for a ban on all e-cigarette and vaping products that have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Tobacco product sales have been limited to those 21 and older across California since 2016, and Congress voted on Dec. 19 to restrict tobacco product sales, including e-cigarettes, to those 21 and older nationwide, restrictions likely to be put in place later this year. The president is expected to sign the bill into law, according to several national news publications.

The ordinance will also allow the city manager and code enforcement officer to withdraw permits for tobacco retail operations if the ordinance is violated, and to prohibit vendors from offering free samples or coupons related to tobacco products, selling tobacco product samples out of their packages, and using self-service displays for tobacco product sales. It also clarifies that the ban is not only on selling, but also on distributing flavored tobacco and vape devices.

To alert retailers about the change in policy, county workers will inform them about the ordinance, and volunteers trained by the county will visit existing tobacco retailers and ask them to remove flavored tobacco and e-cigarette products from their shelves.

The ban also imposes additional restrictions on tobacco products and broadens the city's definition of what constitutes secondhand smoke to include "secondhand aerosol emitted from electronic cigarettes."

The City Council on Dec. 10 asked that the city look into zoning changes to ban smoke shops and hookah lounges from operating in Menlo Park, a step that will require a review and public hearing at the Planning Commission level.

While voting for the ordinance on Dec. 17, Councilman Ray Mueller added that he is interested in creating a "narrowly tailored exception" in which electronic cigarettes could be sold under medical supervision behind a pharmacy counter, which he said he is interested in discussing in the new year.

Lung injury outbreak

These changes come as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) deals with an outbreak of a new lung disease it's calling EVALI, short for e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury. As of Dec. 17, there have been 2,506 hospitalizations and 54 deaths reported from the outbreak across the U.S.

On Dec. 20, the CDC released four reports about the outbreak, noting that emergency department visits for the condition appear to have peaked in September and are on the decline, though the rate is still higher than when the outbreak began in June. The injuries are believed to be linked to vitamin E acetate.

In addition, the CDC reports research suggesting that many patients experiencing EVALI remain vulnerable after hospital discharge. The CDC is now recommending that physicians follow up with a patient within two days after he or she is sent home from the hospital.

In addition, it recommends that people not use vaping products containing THC or vitamin E acetate, and that youth, young adults and pregnant women never use vaping products.


Sign up for Almanac Express to get news updates. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Or show your support for local journalism by subscribing.

What is democracy worth to you?
Support local journalism.


1 person likes this
Posted by drug users
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Dec 31, 2019 at 1:29 pm

Thank you! Get rid of this scourge!

3 people like this
Posted by drug users
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Jan 1, 2020 at 10:52 am

speaking of drug use - from our dear leader yesterday:

"Vaping is coming out. We’re just going to be announcing it very shortly. Some people already know about what we’re doing. We have to protect our families. At the same time, it’s a big industry. We want to protect the industry. And, as you know, we’ll be taking it off -- the flavors -- for a period of time -- certain flavors.

We’re going to protect our families. We’re going to protect our children. And we’re going to protect the industry. Hopefully, if everything is safe, they’re going to be going very quickly back onto the market. So the flavors will come off. They’re going to be checked. We want to make it -- people have died from this.

They’ve died from vaping. We think we understand why. But we’re doing a very exhaustive examination, and hopefully everything will be back on the market very, very shortly. Look, vaping can be good from the standpoint -- you look at the e-cigarettes -- you stop smoking. If you can stop smoking, that’s a big advantage.

So we think we’re going to get it back onto the market very, very quickly, but we have to protect the children. We have to protect the families. At the same time, we have a very big industry. It’s become a very big industry. We’re going to take care of the industry."

To appreciate it in all it's glory, please read it at least twice, if not three times.

Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 1, 2020 at 6:33 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"from our dear leader yesterday"

And his supporters believe that moronic claptrap from the imbecile in chief.

15 people like this
Posted by Ukrainian Vape
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 2, 2020 at 4:57 pm

Reading that, it almost sounds like the Ukrainian phone call: do a favor for me....

Doesn't it sound like he's soliciting donations (bribes) from the industry? He mentions them 5 times, but not our kids that are getting hooked on their products.

Do me a little favor then....

Like this comment
Posted by West Menlo
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jan 3, 2020 at 5:14 pm

Wow---Trump Derangement Syndrome!!

Why make it illegal? Why not make it illegal to sell to underage kids? Why not make it illegal for underage kids to use? Then prosecute them if they are caught using or fine the heck out of the stores which sell to the underage kids? Does that mean that they are going to take tobacco products off the market in Menlo Park? They are a heck of a lot more destructive than vaping products. What about alcohol? Lots of bad things happen with alcohol. And, finally, when are we going to make it illegal to smoke marijuana? Let's at least try to be a little consistent her, folks!!

Like this comment
Posted by drug users
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Jan 3, 2020 at 7:26 pm

Wow - 8 questions, and nary a fact or opinion. Thanks for sharing.

Let's ask: how do you feel these poisons should be regulated?

Or, what are your thoughts on the president's soliloquy?

Like this comment
Posted by West Menlo
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jan 4, 2020 at 2:08 pm

OK @drug user: I'll put it in simple rhetorical statements then: Make it illegal to sell to underage kids. Prosecute them when they are caught and fine the heck out of the merchants that are caught selling to minors. We should, for the sake of consistency, consider making illegal all sales of tobacco products in Menlo Park. They have been proven to be more destructive than vaping products. At the same time, let's ban sale and consumption of alcohol and, certainly, marijuana (another smoking product) in MP as well, both of which have caused their share of societal ills.

Now do you understand a bit better? Do you understand irony? Didn't think so...

BTW: 2 questions and not a fact or opinion in your comment...

Like this comment
Posted by drug users
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Jan 4, 2020 at 5:12 pm

> 2 questions and not a fact or opinion in your comment...

Not in that comment, but in the first comment in this thread. Sorry you missed it.

Thanks for finally offering an opinion and wow, all the extraneous whataboutisms (alcohol - bad!) In fact, the longer your rant goes, the more it starts to sound more like the one posted above from our vaper-in-chief.

You say outlaw sales to kids; by extension you believe kid-oriented flavors should still be available?

So using Joe Camel to sell cigarettes to underage smokers is okay, as long as it's illegal for a retailer to actually sell them? How'd that work out for public health, quality of lives, and suffering, along with public health costs?

Like this comment
Posted by West Menlo
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jan 5, 2020 at 6:04 pm

@drug users :
Please answer me this: are you in favor of legalization of marijuana?

Your answer would tell me a lot.

When do you think someone is old enough to make a decision as to what to put in their body?

So, in your first comment, I would assume you would also like to get rid of tobacco products, and if you are into wiping out scourges, alcohol has to be on your list. Look at the lives ruined, families broken up, and lives lost due to alcohol. That too? so, where do you stop? And who gave you the right to protect me from myself?

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

All your news. All in one place. Every day.

Los Altos's State of Mind opening NYC-inspired pizza shop in Palo Alto
By Elena Kadvany | 13 comments | 7,779 views

Flying: How much is enough? It's personal.
By Sherry Listgarten | 12 comments | 2,504 views

Wait, wait – we’re working on it
By Diana Diamond | 17 comments | 2,025 views

My Pet Peeves
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 7 comments | 1,579 views

Goodbye toy stores
By Cheryl Bac | 3 comments | 810 views


Short story writers wanted!

The 34th Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult and Teen categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by March 27, 2020. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category.

View Details