August 29, 2020
Area(s) of Interest: Advocacy
Despite fierce opposition from Big Tobacco, California Governor Gavin Newsom on Friday signed into law a bill that will end the sale of flavored tobacco products – including minty menthol. With the governor’s signature on SB 793 (Hill, D-San Mateo), California will have among the nation's strongest protections against Big Tobacco’s business model that markets deadly tobacco products to kids, especially in low-income and Black and Brown communities.
The California Medical Association (CMA) has long been at the forefront of the fight against Big Tobacco. CMA proudly joined a large coalition of health care, youth and community organizations to support SB 793 and protect kids from the dangers of tobacco use.
“CMA applauds Governor Newsom for taking decisive action to end youth tobacco use by signing SB 793," said CMA President Peter N. Bretan, Jr., M.D. "Tobacco companies prey on young users – flavors hook kids – and SB 793 is an important step to crack down on teen tobacco use. We are proud to stand with this coalition, the legislature, and the Governor to protect our youth from a new generation of highly addictive tobacco products and put an end to the youth tobacco use epidemic.”
Current events have highlighted the dangers of tobacco use. There is growing evidence that smokers are at a greater risk of hospitalization and severe illness due to COVID-19, placing smokers in the high-risk category. Smoking increases the risk for respiratory infections, weakens the immune system and is a major cause of a number of chronic health conditions, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease and diabetes. In addition, there is growing evidence that vaping can also harm lung health.
The new law will take effect January 1, 2021, and will prohibit retail stores and vending machines in California from selling flavored tobacco products, including flavored e-cigarettes, e-hookahs, e-pipes and other vaping devices. Retailers will be fined $250 for each violation.
Opponents of the flavored tobacco ban are already seeking to overturn the law via a referendum on the 2022 ballot. CMA remains steadfast in it's opposition to Big Tobacco's predatory marketing of flavored tobacco products and we will be closely monitoring the situation.