SAN FRANCISCO -- A signature campaign will force a recently passed ordinance banning the sale of menthol-flavored tobacco products in San Francisco to be put before a vote by city residents.
The campaign, led by a coalition of residents, business leaders, retailers and trade associations called Let’s Be Real San Francisco, acquired more than 25,000 signatures, well over the 19,000 necessary to require the city’s board of supervisors to place a referendum question on an election ballot next year to let citizens vote for or against the ordinance.
San Francisco’s board of supervisors approved the measure on June 20, with implementation scheduled to begin in April 2018.
To execute on the referendum mandate, the supervisors have three options, according to Thomas Briant, executive director, NATO, Minneapolis. NATO, a tobacco retail-sales-outlet association, is part of the coalition.
The board can:
- Schedule the referendum vote for the next regular primary election that is already planned for June 5, 2018.
- Set a special election date earlier than the June 5, 2018, primary election date. (The city would need to cover the cost of a special election.)
- Consider repealing the flavor-ban ordinance without a public vote.
Getting the required number of signatures was difficult, Briant said, adding it was done “in an attempt to protect the right of retailers to sell lawful products and the right of legal-age adults to purchase legal tobacco products.”