OLDalifornia becomes the largest US state to ban flavored tobacco products on Tuesday, Associated Press reportwith voters supporting legislation restricting the sale of products including menthol cigarettes and fruity flavored vapor liquid.
As of Wednesday morning, 41 percent of Californians’ votes had been counted. Of that group, nearly two-thirds voted in favor of the ban, which, according to the Associated Press, was enough to declare victory. This policy does not apply to hookahs, premium cigars or loose tobacco.
It’s a long and expensive road to getting there. California Governor Gavin Newsom Sign bill to ban the sale of flavored cigarettes by 2020, but it was met with strong resistance from the tobacco industry. More than 620,000 verified voters have signed on to a Big To Tobacco-backed initiative to reverse the law, put the matter on this year’s ballot as Proposition 31. Voters can choose to uphold or repeal the law.
Massachusetts became the first US state to ban the sale of flavored cigarettes in 2019 and some other states—Including New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island — has introduced similar restrictions on some flavored products. Historically, California has supported tobacco regulation. In 2019, San Francisco became the first US city ban vaping productsand the cities of Beverly Hills and Manhattan Beach have since banned most sales of tobacco — flavored or unflavored.
However, Proposition 31 has turned the country’s most populous state into a battleground. Tobacco companies including Philip Morris USA and RJ Reynolds are said to have spent more than 20 million dollars in their campaign to reverse the ban — a number shrunk by funding provided by billionaire pro-tobacco billionaire Michael Bloomberg to support the law. Based on PoliticoBloomberg personally contributed the majority of the $71 million spent in support of the ban.
Bloomberg and other anti-tobacco advocates have fought for years to limit the availability of flavored cigarettes. They scored a big win earlier this year, when the US Food and Drug Administration announced intention to ban the sale of menthol cigarettes, citing their role in attracting new smokers and keeping existing users addicted. But opponents argue that menthol is only banned push users to unflavored tobacco products and may add to discriminatory policy issues, as menthol cigarettes are disproportionately used by black Americans.
There is also much debate about the role of flavor in e-cigarettes. Proponents of flavoring bans point to display data underage consumers overwhelmingly choose flavored products instead of things that taste like cigarettes. They argue that banning flavored liquids could deprive young people of the habit and potentially become addicted to nicotine. Meanwhile, some researchers and vaping advocates note that adults who use e-cigarettes to switch away from the deadly combustible tobacco also like flavored products and may not convert without good taste.
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