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November 9, 2022

California Voters Approve Flavored Vape Prohibition

Nov. 11 update
On Nov. 9, just a day after voters approved Proposition 31, the law was challenged in federal court by R.J. Reynolds and others.

With over 40 percent of votes counted, California voters appear to be on the way to overwhelmingly approve Proposition 31, which bans sale in stores of vaping and tobacco products containing non-tobacco flavors. So far, 62 percent of voters have supported the flavor ban.

Financial support for the ballot initiative came almost exclusively from billionaire anti-vaping activist Michael Bloomberg.

Prop 31 allowed voting residents to approve or reject a bill passed in 2020 by a huge majority of the California Assembly. The law was put on hold for two years after tobacco companies bankrolled a signature-collection campaign to put the legislation to the voters.

The flavor ban includes vapes, nicotine pouches and tobacco

The new law, which will take effect later this year, bans brick-and-mortar sales of all vaping products in flavors other than tobacco. The prohibition extends to nicotine-free e-liquid and so-called “flavor enhancers,” which probably includes one-shot DIY mixes.

Prop 31 would even ban flavored products authorized for sale by the FDA and designated “appropriate for the protection of public health.” (The FDA has not so far authorized any flavored products.)

The law also prohibits sales of flavored nicotine pouches (which are almost all flavored), menthol cigarettes, flavored small cigars, and flavored smokeless tobacco, including snus. The flavor ban exempts hookah products, pipe tobacco and cigars.

The law does not ban online sales, but California law makes selling vaping products online—even from outside the state—an onerous process for retailers.

California joins Massachusetts as the only states to have banned flavored vaping products along with menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. Three other states—New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island—currently have flavored vape bans (all passed in early 2020), but sales of menthol cigarettes were left untouched.

Bloomberg personally outspent the entire tobacco industry

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids President Matthew Myers says the passage of Proposition 31 “provides powerful momentum for similar action by other states and cities, as well as by the FDA, which has proposed rules prohibiting menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars.”

Despite being supported by just about every national and California public health and tobacco control organization, California Governor Gavin Newsom (who also won reelection yesterday) and most Democratic politicians, Myers specifically thanked only one person in the group’s press release.

“We are also grateful to Michael R. Bloomberg for the exceptional leadership he provided in this campaign,” Myers said. “No single individual has done more to fight tobacco use and save lives around the world.”

Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor with a net worth of about $77 billion, contributed nearly all of the $47 million spent by the Committee to Protect California Kids, which led the Yes on 31 campaign, according to Politico. The East Bay Times estimated it would take over 1,900 years of full-time work for the average American worker to earn as much as Bloomberg spent promoting Prop 31.

Californians Against Prohibition, the group opposing the law, has been almost entirely funded by tobacco giants Philip Morris USA (a division of Altria Group) and RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co. (a subsidiary of British American Tobacco). The two tobacco companies each contributed more than $9 million to the cause, seeking mainly to protect their menthol cigarette sales in the nation’s largest state.

Smokers created vaping without help from the tobacco industry or anti-smoking crusaders, and I believe vapers have the right to continue innovating to help themselves. My goal is to provide clear, honest information about the challenges vaping faces from lawmakers, regulators, and brokers of disinformation. I’m a member of the CASAA board, but my opinions aren’t necessarily CASAA’s, and vice versa. You can find me on Twitter @whycherrywhy
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John Hastings
John Hastings
28 days ago

When does this ban take effect? The article simply states “later this year”.

John Hastings
John Hastings
27 days ago
Reply to  Jim McDonald

Thanks for answering, Jim. Not much time to dump the flavored products. Disposal costs are going to be ruinous.

22 days ago
Reply to  John Hastings

At least all us vape users are going to be stocking up lol

Meghan Kavenaugh
Meghan Kavenaugh
23 days ago

Can’t you just go into a brick and mortar shop and order it to be delivered to your home in the same town. I’m not understanding why they are just going after small businesses? It does not make any sense that you can get it shipped to you in California but not buy it in a store front.

15 days ago

This stupid law just created thousands of Teenage cigarette smokers who were just Vape occasionally before but now I will get hooked on cigarettes Vape is not so bad and it’s easy to walk away from cigarettes cause a lifelong addiction. I really have a feeling that the cigarette industries was behind this damn law

25 days ago

I wonder at what level does vaping destroy a person’s body. I know two vapers and their faces look very rugged-to say the least. Vape smells like artificial poison to me.

25 days ago
Reply to  Jim McDonald