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E-cigarettes. (Photo: medicine.iu.edu)

Flavored Tobacco Ban Begins In California

Customers said they’ll simply stock up on the next trip out of state

By Evan Symon, December 22, 2022 1:46 pm

The statewide flavored tobacco and e-cigarette ban went into effect on Wednesday, impacting retailers and consumers alike less than a week after a final attempt to stop it in the Supreme Court failed.

Flavored Commercial Tobacco Products. (Photo: health.state.mn.us)

The battle over flavored tobacco in California dates back to January 2020, when then-Senator Jerry Hill introduced SB 793, to totally ban flavored cigarettes and e-cigarettes from sale in the state. The bill had much support, and easily made it through the Assembly and Senate, although a number of amendments were added, allowing certain exceptions. Governor Gavin Newsom signed the bill shortly afterwards, with the ban set to take place at the end of the year.

However, tobacco companies quickly formed a coalition and set up a ballot referendum, collecting enough signatures in time by December to delay the ban. In early 2021, enough signatures were collected to put the decision up to California voters, with the referendum going to to the November 2022 ballot. Tobacco companies fought hard to fail the referendum, now known as Proposition 31, as many felt the ban went too far, and that it would hurt many businesses as a result. Those supporting pushing for Prop 31 to pass claimed a rise in youth tobacco consumption partially attributed to flavored tobacco being on the market.

Last month, Californians overwhelmingly voted  for the ban to stay in place, 63% to 37%, or, 6.8 million for the ban and 3.9 million against. With the ban now set to begin later this month, R.J. Reynolds, as well as other tobacco companies, quickly filed an emergency application for a writ injunction with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the court to stop the ban as a last Hail Mary attempt. In their application, the tobacco companies said that the ban will cause “irreparable harm, leading to substantial financial losses and a hit to customer goodwill and its reputation.” Meanwhile, California argued that this was a state matter, and voters had already decided on it.

Flavored tobacco ban in CA begins

Without any quotes or other notes, all nine Supreme Court justices turned down the case last week, ending the last legal avenue to stop the ban and clearing the way for the ban to begin on the 21st. On Wednesday, all flavored tobacco products, including flavored cigarettes, flavored e-cigarette juice, menthol cigarettes, flavored tobacco enhancers, and all other related flavored tobacco products were officially banned. A few exemptions, such as flavored tobacco used in hookah bars, flavored loose-leaf pipe tobacco, and flavored premium cigars costing over $12, are still allowed under the law, but will be closely regulated from now on.

While some retailers and users have been generally fine with the ban, others noted to the Globe on Thursday that it has already negatively hurt them.

“So we had to take out shelves of the products Tuesday night,” Duy Pham, a convenience store owner in Riverside, told the Globe Thursday, “A lot of customers have been lost and angry the last several days, and I’d say we have lost hundreds in sales so far. We all knew this was coming, but it’s not great. This isn’t what we wanted at all.”

Others noted that, instead of discouraging users, it was only having them change products.

“We get a lot of teenagers and people in their early twenties here,” said Paul Stevens, a manager at a national convenience store chain. “When we told them what happened, some did get angry, but 99% of them just asked for another type of cigarette brand or something pure tobacco. Others said they’ll simply stock up on the next trip out of state and maybe give some to their friends. Whatever they thought would work, it hasn’t. And it looks like a work around is forming by having people bring it in out of state, so California is losing out in taxes in the end. I don’t think they realized what they did honestly.”

Other states and cities in the U.S. are currently considering similar bans.

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11 thoughts on “Flavored Tobacco Ban Begins In California

  1. Sales of flavored tobacco will just shift to online or to neighboring states? Meanwhile the Democrats have become tbe party of death making California a mecca for the killing of babies.

    1. You bet! Cannabis gummies come in many flavors. Though some people become habituated to THC, it doesn’t have the same addictive potential as nicotine. That’s the point of trying to outlaw flavored nicotine products that could be more attractive to kids.

      1. Your hypocritical Democrat masters legalized recreational marijuana and they have made no effort to ensure that kids cannot obtain it. In fact 2022, Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom signed several cannabis bills, one of which legalized the interstate cannabis trade. Marijuana is a much bigger market than flavored nicotine, it’s highly addictive, and it has just as many harmful effects as nicotine. Your hypocritical Democrat masters see marijuana as a lucrative revenue source that keeps kids and others dumbed down. A dumbed down population is much less likely to question the criminal activities that your Democrat masters are up to.

  2. They ban flavored nicotine (vapes) & flavored tobacco products. Well, if any of you read this article correctly they’re still allowing 3 to not be banned. Which I feel is a bunch of bull$*#×. How is it they can just pick & choose? Bcuz it’s what the wealthy people smoke? So, what I am reading is that they are catering to the “Rich” and/or “Weathly” class of society as usual. They are the only ones that I know of that smoke pipes & cigars & I’m sure their kids smoke the hookah. I just think if you’re going to ban it then ban ALL of it. California is the worst state ever. First they take away a woman’s right to an abortion. Which I feel is NO ONE’S business to begin with. Mind what’s going on in your own pathetic life & stay out of everyone else’s & now the flavored tobacco bcuz their kids are getting a hold of them. Well, hmmmm…..maybe if people didn’t worry so much about what the other person is doing then they’d be able to pay more attention to their own kids & families so their children wouldn’t turn to smoking.

    1. 1. How about not banning any of it, instead of all of it?
      2. I smoke a pipe, and I am definitely not rich, so your thinking is both inaccurate and a cliché.
      3. “First they take away a woman’s right to an abortion.” What are you talking about? Where? Certainly not in California! Abortion rights are now enshrined in California’s constitution.

  3. I been smoking Newport menthol cigarettes for 25 years and now all of a sudden I’m suppose to not smoke my brand of cigarettes and travel out of state to get my brand or a menthol cigarette period why is it anyone business why and how Americans get ther nicotine nobody has taken flavors alcohol beverages away or said anything about the million flavored types of marijuana or marijuana gummies it is non American and we need to do something about it

  4. This whole thing is ridiculous…it doesn’t matter what is vaped, smoked or chewed. If I want to choose that as an adult I should be able to. I monitor my kids and tell them about the dangers and do my due diligence so hopefully they wont pick it up. I am also not on public assistance and I will pay for my own decisions in health care when/if issues occur….so no harm no foul for others paying for my choices. I am an implant to California because of work but this place is ridiculous and like someone had mentioned the rich still get to indulge and decide on what’s good for minority communities and people not in power. So While they are taking part in expensive cigars and drinking birthday cake vodka martinis while taking flavored thc gummies just remember it’s menthol and flavored tobacco that is the gateway drug and the scourge on society…..Get a grip CA

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