As much as I like state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, he would probably have to admit that his bill to ban flavored tobacco in California is mostly ceremonial. One can already envision the trunk loads and truck loads of banned products flooding in from surrounding states creating a booming black market. Then there is the internet. When I googled to see what it takes to buy online cigarettes the first entry I read started out “it never has been easier to buy cigarettes online.”
The only change likely to occur from Jerry’s bill will be California’s loss of the sales tax from these products. What is needed is a comprehensive approach to the tobacco issue and a national one would be better. The first thing to recognize is that tobacco is tobacco, and all should be treated with the same restrictions. The idea that we ban cigarettes in outdoor eateries but allow hookah use is ludicrous. The CDC states that hookah use presents the same health risks as cigarettes. A Juul pod contains as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes. So Jerry, if we really want to get serious about the tobacco issue, and we should as I have seen statistics that tobacco use is responsible for one-third of the cost of medical care in this country, then the sale, possession and use of all tobacco products and electronic cigarettes should be banned for those under the age of 21.
Steven Howard, MD