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Department of Health Services

For Immediate Release

Sonoma County bans sale of e-cigarettes and flavored tobacco in unincorporated areas

SANTA ROSA, CA | May 14, 2024

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors today voted to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products and e-cigarettes in unincorporated areas of the county. The changes to the county’s tobacco retail ordinance are in response to public health data that show e-cigarettes and flavored tobacco use increasing among high school-aged youth.

In Sonoma County, 13 percent of 11th graders said they have used an e-cigarette, according to the Department of Health Services. The devices, also known as vapes, can cause serious health implications, including contributing to detrimental inhalation patterns, and heightened risks for youth's developing brains, according to medical researchers.

“Today’s action signals the Board’s ongoing commitment to the health and safety of local youth,” said Supervisor Lynda Hopkins, vice chair of the Board of Supervisors. “By banning the sale of certain tobacco products that have pervaded youth culture, we can make it harder for children to access these dangerous products.”

Since 2022, California law has prohibited the sale of most flavored tobacco products, with some exemptions. The law, however, allows local jurisdictions such as Sonoma County to adopt more restrictive flavor policies. For example, the state does not address online sales of flavored tobacco products while the county ordinance allows sales of tobacco products to occur only in-person at the licensed business location, thereby prohibiting all other manner of sales, including online sales and sales from app-based delivery services.

“This ordinance will not only benefit the health of Sonoma County residents, but it will also help to protect the county’s environmental health,” said Supervisor Susan Gorin. “Vaping devices account for 70 tons of waste in Sonoma County’s landfill. Removing these non-recyclable toxic devices will help to eliminate hazardous waste.”

Sonoma County’s ordinance, which will take effect 30 days after passing, aligns with the cities of Petaluma, Sebastopol and Windsor, which have also outlawed the sale of e-cigarettes and flavored tobacco.

“This is an important step forward in protecting the future health of our young people,” said Department of Health Services Director Tina Rivera. “Having more continuity throughout the county will be very beneficial.”

There are currently 78 licensed tobacco retailers in unincorporated Sonoma County, representing 23 percent of the total tobacco retailers throughout the county including cities.

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Media Contact:
Matt Brown, Communications Specialist
(707) 565-3040
575 Administration Drive, Suite 104A
Santa Rosa, CA 95403