California OKs ban of most flavored tobacco
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday signed a law that will ban the sale of most flavored tobacco products in the state starting Jan. 1.
The new law doesn’t make it a crime to possess flavored tobacco products but it will be illegal to sell flavored cigarettes and vaping cartridges. Retailers could be fined up to $250.
The bill, which was given final passage Friday by the state Senate, was authored by Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo.
He argued that sweet, flavored products serve as a “kid-friendly” gateway to tobacco addiction.
The measure bars the sale of flavors including — but not limited to —“fruit, chocolate, vanilla, honey, candy, cocoa, dessert, alcoholic beverage, menthol, mint, wintergreen, herb, or spice.”
It’s already illegal for retailers to sell tobacco to anyone under 21. But advocates of the ban say flavored tobacco products are still too easy for teens to obtain.
The law won’t ban all such products. It excludes loose-leaf tobacco, tobacco that is smoked in water pipes, and “premium cigars,” which cost at least $12 and aren’t machine-made.
Retailers opposed the ban, saying they follow the law and don’t sell to minors. They worry banning the products will hurt their business.
The bill also was opposed by e-cigarette industry groups and lobbyists who contend their products help smokers quit cigarettes.
“As California’s economy continues to face COVID-related challenges, the last thing its state leaders should be doing is driving people back to cigarettes, shuttering small businesses and slashing jobs,” Tony Abboud, executive director of the Vapor Technology Association, said in a statement cited by the San Francisco Chronicle.