The county of Los Angeles on Friday defended its ban on flavored vape products to the Ninth Circuit, saying federal law gives states and local governments the ability to control the sale of tobacco products within their borders.
Los Angeles County said that contrary to arguments by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., American Snuff Co. and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co., the Tobacco Control Act does not preempt it from regulating tobacco products once they hit the market. The ordinance banning sales of flavored tobacco products does not set standards for the manufacture of those products, which is up to the federal government to regulate, the county said.
In March, the companies called the ban unconstitutional, saying state and local governments can’t bar the sale of tobacco products because they disagree with federal tobacco standards. But the ban doesn’t pose an obstacle to federal policy, L.A. County said, since the FDA recently announced it intends to ban menthol cigarettes and all flavored cigars.
That announcement makes it clear that the ordinance is in line with federal policy on menthol, the county said.
Los Angeles County adopted the ordinance in September 2019 as it grappled with a wave of severe lung illnesses related to vaping and an increase in youth tobacco use. The policy expressly bans store sales of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol, in the majority of the county. The ordinance went into effect on May 1, 2020