The Santa Clarita City Council voted Tuesday night to extend a temporary moratorium on new sales of flavored tobacco products through October 2020.
Councilmembers also encouraged the community to speak up at a Wednesday public hearing about the controversial power safety power shutoffs.
The moratorium, which took effect Oct. 8 following council members’ adoption of an urgency ordinance, halts new sales of flavored-tobacco merchandise, such as electronic cigarettes and vapor products, within Santa Clarita limits, while the city researches more permanent options, according to City Attorney Joe Montes.
At least 20 businesses within the city already profit from sales of flavored tobacco products, and the temporary moratorium would only affect those that don’t currently sell.
The City Council’s unanimous vote Tuesday and Oct. 8 decision stems from an Oct. 1 vote by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to ban the sale of all flavored tobacco products in unincorporated areas such as Castaic and Stevenson Ranch, based largely on health concerns, especially among youth.
But some said the city should take a different approach, including Larry McClements, Old Town Newhall Farmers Market manager, who has been vaping as an alternative to smoking cigarettes.
“I question the logic in jumping in and trying to regulate flavor,” he said. “Double chocolate, pineapple, root beer, white grape, green apple, marshmallow, blackberry: Those are all flavors of alcohol available just less than five minutes from here. I urge you guys to really kind of consider this.”
Mayor Marsha McLean said the city is not “trying to target adults. I think what we’re trying to do is to stop children from getting hooked on nicotine because of the flavors.”
City staff expects to return to the City Council for consideration on more permanent options, according to Montes.
Public Safety Power Shutoffs
On Wednesday, starting at 10 a.m., the Public Utility Commission of the State of California is expected to hold a special meeting in San Francisco to consider opening an investigation into the controversial public safety power shutoffs conducted this year that have left thousands of residents across the state without power, including thousands in the Santa Clarita Valley.
The City Council encouraged residents to express their concerns at the hearing on how the decision to turn off power by investor-owned utility companies, such as Southern California Edison, has impacted their lives.
“I do not want to take a wait-and-see attitude,” said McLean. “The public has an opportunity to comment tomorrow. It is not acceptable and we can very strongly say that we would like the PUC to direct utilities to accelerate upgrades to their infrastructure so that these things don’t fall down and start fires.”
Those interested in participating were able to tune in via a webinar at cpuc.ca.gov.