Marin County tobacco shops caught in middle of vaping battle

Wayne Freedman Image
ByWayne Freedman KGO logo
Tuesday, October 30, 2018
Marin County tobacco shops caught in middle of vaping battle
At Telford's Pipe and Cigar in Mill Valley, smoke and worry hang heavy.

MILL VALLEY, Calif. (KGO) -- It's a throwback to an earlier era - Telford's Pipe and Cigar in Mill Valley, here smoke hangs heavy, and worry as well.

"My livelihood of 45 years is in jeopardy," said Brian Telford. He's a Vietnam veteran and bronze star winner who has created a safe haven for tobacco lovers. Tomorrow, he says, the Marin County Board of Supervisors could ruin him.

"We are at risk of creating a new generation of people addicted to nicotine," said County Public Health Director Dr. Matt Willis, who notes that almost a third of Marin County high school juniors vape. He wants a ban on sales of vaping products and flavored tobaccos in unincorporated areas, which would include Telford's, even though they don't sell vaping products to anyone.

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But, Telford's does sell flavored pipe tobacco, snuff, chewing tobacco, and cigars. All would fall under the county measure. "They need to redefine what flavored tobacco really is," said Telford.

The health department disagrees "We know that one of the most important causes for cigarette smoking is flavoring added to products. It is an enticement," contends Dr. Willis.

"But it is a legal product. It is not illegal," countered Telford.

Nor does his shop sell to anyone under 21 years old.

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"They want to rid the county of tobacco. They want to be tobacco free," said Susan Telford.

"Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States," said Dr. Willis.

And now, Marin County is the latest battle ground.

Vaping is relatively new. Telford's, a tradition. The principle as they see, is that people should have a right to choose.