American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network Disappointed San Diego County Voted to Exempt Hookah and Smokeless Tobacco from New Sales Restriction on Flavored Tobacco Products

January 28, 2020

SAN DIEGO, Calif. –  The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) issued this statement from San Diego Government Relations Director Lynda Barbour following the final vote by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors today to approve a flavored tobacco restriction:

“Flavors are driving the tobacco epidemic and the unprecedented increase in youth tobacco uptake. The sale of all flavored tobacco products, whether on store shelves or in smoking lounges, should be eliminated. Anything less than a comprehensive prohibition to end the sale of all flavored tobacco products diminishes the health and safety of San Diegan teens.

“The San Diego Board of Supervisors had a critical chance to address this public health crisis by approving comprehensive flavored tobacco restrictions today but it tragically left out two products popular with youth in the San Diego area: flavored smokeless tobacco as well as flavored hookah. No exemptions should be allowed and that includes smokeless tobacco and hookah, which is tobacco and is unsafe.

The tobacco industry is luring youth into tobacco use with enticing flavors to mask the harsh taste of tobacco. It is wrong and must be stopped. A World Health Organization report found that in a typical one-hour hookah smoking session, users may inhale 100-200 times the amount of smoke as from a single cigarette. Smokeless tobacco companies have a long history of using flavorings, such as mint, cherry, apple, and honey, and other product manipulation to gradually get new, young users addicted to “starter” products, keep them using, and shift them on to more potent smokeless tobacco products. Tobacco, in any form, including smokeless tobacco, is highly addictive and contains chemicals toxic to humans.

“If these products become the only flavored tobacco allowed to be sold in San Diego County, young people will simply switch to them and that will open the door to a potential lifetime addiction to tobacco.

“More than 40 other cities and counties, including Los Angeles County, have already instituted comprehensive flavored tobacco restrictions without any exemptions.

“We will continue to work with county leaders, hoping and expecting the Board will ultimately pass comprehensive restrictions to end the sale of all flavors in all tobacco products without exemptions. Anything less does not prioritize the safety of San Diego area youth.”

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The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state and local levels. ACS CAN empowers advocates across the country to make their voices heard and influence evidence-based public policy change as well as legislative and regulatory solutions that will reduce the cancer burden. As the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is critical to the fight for a world without cancer. For more information, visit

Media Contacts

Lynda Barbour
Government Relations Director