The City Council unanimously voted on Monday evening to put a measure on the March 3, 2020 ballot that would overturn the City’s ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products in Livermore. The Sept. 9 decision came after the council “reluctantly” certified the referendum that challenges the citywide ban.
The ban includes electronic smoking devices and fluids that could be used to deliver nicotine in an aerosol or vaporized form.
The e-cigarette company Juul Labs backed the measure, garnering enough support to force the council to either overturn the city’s ban or let voters decide.
Councilwoman Trish Munro said she was deeply unhappy that they had to certify the measure, given the deceitful way in which the signatures were collected. “This referendum was bought and paid for by a money firm dealing death,” she said.
Jon Berrier, Juul’s senior director of public affairs, told the council the opposite is true. “Juul’s mission is to improve lives,” he said. ”No non-nicotine user, and certainly no underage individuals should ever use vapor products.” But, he pointed out that a ban would make them unavailable to smokers who are of legal age, too.
“It is critical to supply these products to adult users to get them off cigarettes,” Juul attorney Parker Kasmer stated.
Berrier and Kasmer described the technology the company has developed to restrict retailers from selling to underage smokers, including those in Livermore.
That wasn’t enough to convince three students from Granada High School who had come to the council meeting with dozens of handwritten letters, asking the elected leaders to keep the ban in place. The teens were joined by more than 20 people who told the council they supported the decision to allow voters to decide.
Mayor John Marchand noted that many people in Livermore asked the council to do something to curb the vaping problem.
When they did, “a big corporation came in, lied to the residents and got a referendum to turn over that decision,” he said. “The only people I have heard from that are for the referendum are the people that are profiting off of the addiction of other people.”