California Voters to Determine a Struggle Over Flavored Tobacco – NBC Los Angeles


Two years in the past, California banned flavored tobacco merchandise reminiscent of menthol cigarettes and cotton sweet vaping juice, arguing that they largely attracted children and had been particularly harmful amid the coronavirus pandemic when youth deaths spiked from respiratory issues.

However the legislation by no means took impact. Tobacco giants, together with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Philip Morris USA, spent $20 million on a marketing campaign that gathered sufficient signatures to place the difficulty to the voters.

Californians now will resolve on the Nov. 8 statewide poll whether or not to toss out the legislation or preserve it.

The difficulty has set off a fierce battle. The tobacco corporations are pushing arduous to maintain from being shut out of a giant portion of California’s huge market. In the meantime, supporters of the ban, who embody docs, little one welfare advocates and the state’s dominant Democratic Get together, say the legislation is critical to place a cease to the staggering rise in teen smoking.

Nevertheless, the California Republican Get together desires to repeal the legislation, saying it could trigger an enormous loss in tax income. The unbiased Legislative Analyst’s Workplace estimates it may price the state tens of tens of millions of {dollars} to round $100 million yearly.

If voters approve, California would change into the second state within the nation to enact such a ban after Massachusetts. Numerous cities, together with Los Angeles and San Diego, have already enacted their very own bans.

It’s already unlawful for retailers to promote tobacco to anybody beneath 21. However advocates of the ban say flavored cigarettes and vaping cartridges are nonetheless too straightforward for teenagers to acquire. The ban would not make it against the law to own such merchandise, however retailers who offered them to children could possibly be fined as much as $250.

The ban, which handed the Legislature with bipartisan help, would additionally prohibit the sale of pods for vape pens, tank-based techniques and chewing tobacco, with exceptions made for hookahs, some cigars and loose-leaf tobacco.

The tobacco trade’s marketing campaign has painted the ban as being particularly dangerous for Black and Latino individuals, who use menthol at larger charges than others.

“It’s unfair for communities of shade. Dangerous legislation. Dangerous penalties,” mentioned one on-line banner advert paid for by RAI Companies, a subsidiary of Reynolds American, which is the guardian firm of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco.

However the adverts drew a backlash from some Black leaders who name the marketing campaign offensive.

“I’m insulted that the tobacco trade would make an effort to make us imagine that mentholated cigarettes are a part of African American tradition, and that this can be a discriminatory piece of laws in opposition to Black individuals,” then-Assemblywoman Shirley Weber mentioned earlier than the Legislature voted on the ban. Weber, a San Diego Democrat who chaired the California Legislative Black Caucus, is now California’s secretary of state.

To this point the marketing campaign to permit the legislation to take impact has raised greater than $6 million, almost 4 instances greater than the trouble to cease it, based on state marketing campaign finance information.

Some small neighborhood market house owners favor repealing the legislation, calling it one other blow to their companies as they battle to get better from a drop in gross sales through the pandemic.

Supply hyperlink