Capitol Alert

Flavored tobacco products to remain legal in California as lawmaker withdraws bill

He’s owned a tobacco shop for 26 years. A new ban could put him out of business.

Doug Shaw, owner of Sanctuary Tobacco in San Luis Obispo, says he would likely retire if California legislators pass a law banning the sale of flavored tobacco and e-cigarette products.
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Doug Shaw, owner of Sanctuary Tobacco in San Luis Obispo, says he would likely retire if California legislators pass a law banning the sale of flavored tobacco and e-cigarette products.

A California lawmaker has withdrawn a bill to ban the sale of flavored tobacco and vape products in the state, saying that “hostile amendments” defeated the bill’s purpose.

“I introduced Senate Bill 38 to protect young people from the dangerous health risks of tobacco products in any form and to prevent another generation from becoming addicted to nicotine,” Senator Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, said in a statement. “The aim was to prohibit tobacco products with fruit, candy and other flavors that entice young people from being sold in stores. The amendments imposed on the bill erode those protections by creating unnecessary, harmful exemptions.”

Specifically, the Senate Appropriations committee added amendments to the bill exempting tobacco products with a patent pre-dating Jan. 1, 2000, as tobacco products intended for non-electronic hookahs.

Hill’s bill was aimed at stemming the growing number of youth e-cigarette users, whom Hill said are drawn to tobacco products with sweet flavors like cotton candy.

The Food and Drug Administration found that more than a fifth of high school student reported vaping in 2017; vaping is a billion-dollar industry expected to reach $43 billion in U.S. annual sales by 2023, according to Research and Markets.

The appropriations committee amendments to the bill also led the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association and American Lung Association (all co-sponsors) to drop their support for the bill.

Hill vowed in a statement that he “will not take up this legislation again unless we will be fully protecting young people, as well as communities of color and low-income communities who are targeted by the makers of flavored tobacco products.”

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