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Governor Newsom Vetoes Bill Aimed At Informing Parents About Electronic Cigarette Products

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) - California Governor Gavin Newsom agrees with the state Department of Public Health and will not require all electronic cigarette manufacturers to submit pictures and descriptions of each product it sells to better inform parents of the products available.

The Governor vetoed Senate Bill 538 over the weekend. It would have required all manufacturers selling e-cigarettes in the state to send a written physical description and a picture of each type to the State Department of Public Health by April 1, 2020. Three months later, on July 1, the Department of Public Health would have posted every picture and description on its website and coordinated with the Department of Education on getting that information into the hands of school administrators.

The Department of Public Health would have imposed a fee on e-cigarette manufacturers to cover the cost.

The California Department of Public Health was against the proposal, saying it "may serve more as marketing for e-cigarettes."

In his veto message, the Governor wrote:

"I am returning Senate Bill 538 without my signature. This bill would require electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) manufacturers to submit a written physical description and photograph of each type of e-cigarette sold in California to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) for positing on its website. SB 538's goal of reducing e-cigarette use by California's youth is an important one. My administration is confronting the public health crisis from the increasing use and dangers associated with e-cigarettes, including how best to increase enforcement of e-cigarette requirements, and launching a digital and social media campaign aimed at educating youth, young adults, and parents about the health risks of vaping nicotine and cannabis products. I have also called on the Legislature to pass legislation banning flavored vaping products in the upcoming year. SB 538 does not provide an enforcement mechanism to ensure compliance from manufacturers, many of which are located out-of-state or overseas. While the bill authorizes CDPH to collect a fee from manufacturers of e-cigarettes sold in the state to pay for the costs of implementing this legislation, the fees collected may not be sufficient to fund the program, creating General Fund cost pressures."

According to the Food and Drug Administration, since 2017 the number of high school students who admit to using e-cigarettes in the past 30 days increased 75 percent to approximately three million teens. The bill states:

"An increasing number of electronic cigarettes are developed to resemble otherwise innocuous items, such as USB flash drives or pens. This makes it difficult for parents and educators to identify these electronic cigarettes when they are used by pupils."

California already has a law banning the sale of nicotine products to people under age 21. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 90 percent of smokers in the United States starting smoking before they turned 18, and 98 percent started by age 26.

SB 538 is supported by a number of groups, including the California Medical Association and Kaiser Permanente. The California Department of Public Health wrote in opposition:

"DPH opposes this bill because of concerns that posting descriptions and photographs of e-cigarettes on its Web site and notifying school entities does not directly address the state's youth use of ecigarettes epidemic. DPH states that posting the information may serve more as marketing for e-cigarettes and provide public health legitimacy to e-cigarettes. DPH also states that it would not be able to maintain updated information of an
ever-changing e-cigarette market. DPH further states that this bill does not include an incentive, such as penalties or license suspension or revocation, for manufacturers to comply with the provisions in this bill."

The bill passed the Assembly unanimously Tuesday and now goes back to the Senate for a final vote. If it passes it will go to Governor Newsom to sign or veto.

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