The fate of the City of Goleta’s flavored tobacco ban — which was passed by the Goleta City Council last October and subsequently challenged with a referendum petition in December — will be decided by voters in the November election after a 4-1 vote on the action by the City Council during its meeting Tuesday evening.

The ordinance would ban the sale of all flavored tobacco products in Goleta in an attempt to prevent local youths from smoking and becoming addicted to tobacco and nicotine. The city’s ban follows the state’s Senate Bill 793.

SB 793, which was originally signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom in August 2020, also would prohibit the sale of flavored tobacco products statewide, but includes some exemptions, such as hookah, loose leaf tobacco and premium cigars.

The state’s ban also will be on the November ballot as it was challenged in the same way as Goleta’s ban.

If passed, Goleta’s flavored tobacco ban with no exemptions would supersede the state’s ban.

Councilman Roger Aceves was the one vote against putting the measure on the November ballot. He said he supports having the state’s measure on the ballot, but he “won’t support having a confusing second [measure] put on by the City of Goleta.”

When the petition was certified as having enough valid signatures, the council had a few different options to proceed — rescind the ordinance, put the ordinance on the ballot of a special June election, or put the ordinance on this year’s November ballot.

While council members expressed not wanting to delay the ordinance taking effect, they ultimately decided that the November election would be a better option to give the council enough time for the campaign and education efforts.

“We’ve worked so hard to place the children and youth at the center of our policy-making. … Why would we go backwards?” Councilman James Kyriaco said. “These are our kids. If we’re not going to stand up for them, who is? Protecting our children and youth and the most vulnerable is the most important job we have on council. Let’s do our job, let’s give the voters the choice, let’s put the flavored tobacco ban on the November ballot.”

While each public comment during Tuesday’s meeting was in support of the flavored tobacco ban, previous meetings on the matter attracted several individuals and groups against the ordinance, including local tobacco retailers and individuals who use hookah as part of their cultural practices.

When signatures were being gathered for the referendum petition, the City Council said that several residents expressed concern of being misled by the petition, leading them to believe they were signing a petition in support of the flavored tobacco ban rather than challenging it.

“It appears that [the tobacco industry] has their eyes set on Goleta at this point,” Councilman Kyle Richards said. “It appears that they were contributing to the signature drive and, I would say, the dirty tactics to get signatures from people that were well-meaning but not very informed. … Clearly they would be willing to use these dirty tactics again and they’ll do as much as they can to confuse and obfuscate our process.”

More than 100 jurisdictions in California have passed ordinances prohibiting the sale of flavored tobacco products, including Santa Barbara County and neighboring cities of Santa Maria, Carpinteria and Guadalupe.

According to the item’s staff report, only one jurisdiction — the City and County of San Francisco — has had its ordinance challenged; however, voters decided against the referendum and the ordinance was then approved.

The cost of putting this measure on Goleta’s November ballot will be $25,000 to $35,000, as well as $4,500 to $7,500 for city staff time.

Noozhawk staff writer Serena Guentz can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.