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November 30, 2018

California Lawmakers Will Introduce a Statewide Flavor Ban

When San Francisco voters upheld that city’s ban on flavored vapor and tobacco products in June, supporters of the new law predicted it would spark a prohibition trend, and they were right. More than two dozen California municipalities have enacted some sort of flavored tobacco ban, and now the bandwagon is getting full and rolling downhill fast.

Six California state legislators will introduce a bill next week that would ban all retail sales of flavored e-liquid and other vaping products statewide. The bill will also prohibit sales of menthol cigarettes, flavored cigars, cigarillos, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco, snuff, dissolvable tobacco, and “tobacco edibles.”

The law does not exempt vape shops, even though they’re already prohibited from selling to anyone under 21. If passed, it will put every vape shop in California out of business — even though FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb says that vape shop sales to minors are not a serious problem.

The bill also imposes strict rules for online sales, including a requirement for an adult signature at delivery, and the statement “CONTAINS TOBACCO PRODUCTS: SIGNATURE OF PERSON 21 YEARS OF AGE OR OLDER REQUIRED FOR DELIVERY” printed “conspicuously” on the package.

The bill will be introduced by Democratic state Sen. Jerry Hill, and is supported by four other Democratic senators, and Democratic Assembly member Kevin McCarty. Hill, a former assembly member and onetime mayor of San Mateo, represents the 13th Senate District, which includes San Francisco.

Hill says the bill is a response to Commissioner Gottlieb’s warnings of a teenage vaping “epidemic.” Gottlieb has cited preliminary data from the CDC National Youth Tobacco Survey that show a 77 percent increase this year in past-30-day use of e-cigarettes among high school students. Gottlieb used the data as a pretense for a ban of some flavored vaping products in retail outlets without age restrictions for entrance.

“We must stop the appalling epidemic of e-cigarette use by youths,” Senator Hill said Thursday. “Enticed by fruit, candy and other appealing flavors, high school and middle school students throughout the U.S. are vaping in record numbers. The surge has reversed the decline in underage use of all tobacco products.”

California is the country’s most populous state, and it counts on cigarette taxes and Master Settlement Agreement payments (determined by the number of cigarettes sold) to pay for many state programs. The state has increased cigarette taxes substantially, but never gets around to proposing a ban on the deadliest tobacco product.

It’s bandwagon time, and if it isn’t stopped now it’ll roll right across the country.

Tobacco edibles — whatever they are — will be banned, but apparently the lawmakers aren’t concerned with flavored cannabis edibles, even though the CDC says more high school kids use marijuana than vape nicotine. And cannabis products aren’t just flavored like candy. They are candy.

A quick glance at the menu of one Los Angeles cannabis dispensary showed a dizzying selection of fruit- and chocolate-flavored gummies, cookies, pretzels, brownies, oatmeal bars, creamsicles, fruit chews, caramels, chocolate bars, toffee, popcorn, mints, tinctures, and soft drinks. The small shop offers 89 edible cannabis products for sale. Surely if flavored vapor products are created to target kids, actual candy products are too?

Every politician who wants an easy issue to flog is grabbing hold of vape flavors. The FDA is already working on its own flavor rules, but no one wants to wait for the feds when they can score political points now. After all, vapers are a tiny minority, and not much of a political threat.

Most people view vapers the same way they do smokers, especially in wealthy, healthy California. Throw in a ginned-up epidemic that’s really just a huge moral panic, and you have a recipe for rampant flavor bans. It’s bandwagon time, and if it isn’t stopped now it’ll roll right across the country.

Smokers created vaping without any help from the tobacco industry or anti-smoking crusaders, and vapers have the right to keep 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 recently joined 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 RolliJim McDonaldMatthew WegmannSusanJeremy Mann Recent comment authors
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Vaping Advocate
Vaping Advocate

If someone would care to research something… There is a clear difference between the nicotine used in those refillable tanks that blow large clouds that smell good and the nicotine used in the Juul. Salt an acid chemical that binds to the nicotine and creates an addiction, oh and 50 milligrams per pod is insane. (Juul didn’t become a 15 billion dollar company by helping people quit smoking. They created repeat customers) The small grass roots movement in vaping was meant to start at about 12 and wean down to 0. Sadly salt nicotine style of vaping is being lumped… Read more »

Jeremy Mann
Jeremy Mann

Hi, Vaping Advocate. Thanks for your comment. Respectfully though, I disagree with some of your assertions. For example: 1.) Nicotine salt e-liquid is more addictive than regular nicotine: False. Benzoic acid that’s added to nicotine (to make it a “salt”) does not inherently make nicotine more addictive. That said, nicotine salt is smoother and more palatable, irrespective of the concentration (nic salt juice is sold in concentrations from 3 mg to above 50 mg). Try vaping regular nic at 50 mg! I’ve done it. It’s MUCH harsher than the JUUL! Make 50 mg nicotine less harsh and, sure, it will… Read more »

Sarah Lish
Sarah Lish

Leave it to California to cry epidemic where there isn’t one. This state is driving people out of the state in record numbers with its fascist leadership and its tax “everything into oblivion” mentality. California has a hard enough time keeping jobs and stimulating economic growth so now they are going to drive another industry out of the state. They wanted everyone to stop smoking so they imposed taxes upon taxes to make it as difficult as possible for someone to keep buying cigarettes and they have made getting over-the-counter and prescription nicotine replacement therapy extremely expensive to obtain. Now,… Read more »


Well.. as usual we have a bunch of misinformed politicians looking for an agenda. On top of which “Studies” that show conflicting data or improper research. Heck… no one can even agree whether or not Nicotine is even addicting or if the addiction comes from another substance. Or if the source of type of Nicotine determines addiction. And you can go Clould chasing Without Nicotine in your Vapes. Anybody even ask these kids in their studies what Level of Nic they use? I say that because coming from another direction than former smoker. Yes, I’ve been Vaping for over 10… Read more »

Matthew Wegmann
Matthew Wegmann

I think it would be a great idea for this site to start posting contact information for representatives in the areas that these stories are taking place in.

In light of the recent FDA regulations being passed, I personally wrote a letter to Comissioner Gottlieb and my own House member expressing my concerns about overregulation. It may prove to be ineffective in the end, but we’ll never know if we don’t try!

John Rolli
John Rolli

Look at all these under age children getting a hold on regular cigeretts all these years that we’re under age and they still do millions of them. Are they going to get rid of cigeretts all together for to not let under age smoking? Probably not in my lifetime and I am almost 48 years old and I was a two a pack a day smoker for over 20 years .I got introduced to e-cigeretts like about 3 and half years ago and let me tell you, I have asthma and copy because of them using my rescue inhaler several… Read more »

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