Starting January 1, it will be illegal to sell most flavored tobacco products in California. Governor Gavin Newsom signed the flavored tobacco ban bill on Friday, which was largely developed by Senator Jerry Hill to "address an unprecedented surge in youth nicotine consumption."
Under the new bill, retailers will not be criminally charged for selling flavored cigarettes or vaping cartridges, but could be fined up to $250 for doing so. The bill specifically targets sweet flavors, including fruit, chocolate, candy, and dessert, as well as more traditional flavors such as menthol and mint.
Loose-leaf tobacco and "premium cigars," which are handmade with a tobacco leaf wrapper without a filter, tip or mouthpiece and cost at least $12, are not included in the ban.
Newsom tweeted that the ban "is a victory for public health" in the state.
Senator Hill previously published a fact sheet on the bill that claims "flavored tobacco products are a gateway to harder nicotine use."
The sheet cited information from the California Department of Public Health, which in a 2019 report highlighted that "tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of over 480,000 deaths annually in the United States." The report also found that more than five million youth used e-cigarettes in 2019, and that more than 80% began doing so because of flavored products.
Many state legislators have banded together to support the group California Fights Flavors, a campaign dedicated to addressing this issue. On its website, California Fights Flavors states that a single Juul pod "delivers the same amount of nicotine as a full pack of 20 cigarettes." It also states that one in four high school students in the U.S. uses e-cigarettes.
California's new statewide ban is expected to reduce the number of teens who begin using tobacco products, the department of health said, citing studies that indicate local bans in New York, St. Paul and Minneapolis have seen such progress.
Anti-tobacco groups and health organizations were quick to praise the passing of the bill on social media.
The American Heart Association, which applauded Newsom's signature on the bill, released a study earlier this year that e-cigs may beas traditional cigarettes.
"Our study results suggest there is no evidence that the use of e-cigarettes reduces cardiovascular injury, dysfunction or harm associated with the use of combustible tobacco products," study co-author Jessica Fetterman said in the report.
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