Prop. 31: California voters to decide future of flavored tobacco products

In 2020, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the law that banned the sale of certain products.

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Friday, October 7, 2022
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Proponents said this would stop young people from smoking e-cigarettes, which come in different flavors such as cotton candy, berry and cherry. Opponents say an across-the-board ban on sales would create an underground market.

In November, California voters will decide whether they want to ban flavored tobacco products under Proposition 31.

In 2020, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the law that banned the sale of certain products.

Proponents said this would stop young people from smoking e-cigarettes, which come in different flavors such as cotton candy, berry and cherry.

The original legislation was written by former State Senator Jerry Hill.

"In a one year period of time, high school usage of e-cigarettes and flavored tobacco went up 78% and middle school went up 48%. One in five high school kids, students, were smoking flavored tobacco," said Hill.

This ban would also include menthol-flavored products.

Opponents say just like prohibition, which didn't work, an across-the-board ban on sales would create an underground market where people would buy these products illegally, making them harder to regulate.

Edgar Hampton, a retired law enforcement officer, said the market "is always going to fill that gap."

"If it comes from the black market or cartels or gangs or anything else like that, that's where it's going to come from," he said.

Federal law already prohibits the sale of tobacco products to those under 21.

Hampton says marijuana is a more serious issue for kids.

"To decriminalize marijuana while making illegal tobacco products, it doesn't match up at all," he said.

Proponents say adults who want these products can still get them.

"This does not prohibit the use of menthol or flavored tobacco products," said Hill. "It just prohibits the retail sales, but they can still buy it. They can buy it online and that's available for anyone after this becomes law."

For a list of qualified statewide ballot measures, click here.

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