Capitol Alert

California lawmakers move to ban flavored tobacco

Six California lawmakers will push for a ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, as well as other flavored tobacco products, in order to curb the usage of those products by young people.

Sens. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, Anthony J. Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge, Connie Leyva, D-Chino and Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, as well as Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, announced Thursday that they plan to introduce a bill banning the sale of such products when the California Legislature convenes next week.

In addition to banning the sale of flavored tobacco products, the bill also would impose age verification requirements for the online sale of tobacco products, “prompted by new federal figures showing a sharp rise in e-cigarette use by youths, a jump in use of the flavored e-cigarettes by high school students and an increase in underage use of tobacco products overall,” according to a joint statement from the lawmakers.

In 2018, more than 3.6 million middle and high school-aged students used e-cigarettes, also called vaping, in America, according to newly released data from the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That’s more than double the number reported in 2017 “and almost 13 times the number of students who were using e-cigarettes in 2011,” according to the statement.

An estimated one in five high school students, and one out of 20 middle school students, used e-cigarettes in 2018.

E-cigarettes pose a danger to youths not just because of their nicotine content, but due to the aerosol containing at least 10 chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm, according to the California Department of Public Health.

More than two dozen California cities have restricted the sale of flavored tobacco products, including San Francisco, Richmond, Berkeley and Sonoma, according to the Center for Tobacco Policy and Organizing.

Andrew Sheeler covers California’s unique political climate for McClatchy. He has covered crime and politics from Interior Alaska to North Dakota’s oil patch to the rugged coast of southern Oregon. He attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks.