A petition circulating in Goleta to overturn the city’s ban on flavored tobacco collected more than the required number of signatures despite a controversy over the use of strategic lies by petition signature-gatherers.
Posts at the NextDoor app first alerted members of the county’s “smokefree” anti-tobacco coalition that signature-gatherers were at Goleta shopping centers and going door-to-door, collecting signatures and saying the petition was to ban flavored tobacco when the reverse was actually true. Even a city councilmember had been approached. James Kyriaco described at last Tuesday’s council meeting how he’d had to ask the person who knocked at his door several questions before realizing they were lying about the purpose of the petition.
As about 100 cities in California have done, Goleta’s City Council voted to ban the flavored e-cigarettes because of the popularity of the candy and mint flavors among teenagers, which often led to a hard-to-kick nicotine addiction. At the September 21 hearing, the city’s smoke shop owners protested strenuously, saying the effect on their business would be devastating. Two of them started the petition in advance of the new ordinance taking effect on December 4.
The petition was filed on November 8 with more than 4,000 signatures, said Kelly Hoover, the city’s spokesperson. Twenty-six people had asked to have their names withdrawn, which they could only do before the petition was filed. It will now go to the County Elections Office to verify the remaining signatures; 2,040 are needed for the petition to be valid, said Hoover. The council then has three choices: repeal the ordinance, place the referendum in a special election, or wait until the November 2022 election. Should they choose to wait, the ordinance would be in abeyance until the vote is taken.