Why California’s New Ban on Flavored Tobacco Is Headed for Failure
November 21, 2022
In 2020 California Governor Gavin Newsom sponsored SB 793 to make flavored tobacco illegal in the state of California. After a referendum was qualified on the law, California voters had their say – and the ban (Prop 31) was approved in the November 2022 election.
The argument made by Newsom and backers of the ban was that children were getting their hands on flavored tobacco products because law enforcement was simply too busy to enforce an existing law that made it illegal to sell flavored tobacco products to under-age consumers. The only solution was to ban all flavored tobacco products – and viola children wouldn’t be able to buy them. Simple right?
Well, consider these important questions:
If California law enforcement agencies were too busy to enforce a law prohibiting the sale of these products to youth, how will things be any different now that all flavored tobacco products are banned?
Without the threat of real enforcement, aren’t we simply creating perfect conditions for a black market with flavored tobacco in California?
And if black market dealers are now the only ones selling flavored tobacco products versus licensed retailers, wouldn’t it now be easier for under-age youth to get hooked on flavored tobacco?
Backers of the flavored tobacco ban either did not consider enforcement relevant or did not care. The new law came with no money allocated to local law enforcement or municipalities for reimbursement of funds required to implement this new law. The state of California requires all new laws to be funded with the "no unfunded mandate" rule, but this law did not have one.
Reform California Chairman Carl DeMaio raises the question of who will pay for real enforcement of the law. Without funding for enforcement, DeMaio says "the flavored tobacco ban simply becomes yet another unfunded mandate by the State Legislature intent on virtue-signaling, not real public health results.”
DeMaio warns we should have seen this problem coming. DeMaio points to the many municipalities throughout California that had already implemented flavored tobacco bans but none funded any kind of worthy enforcement program.
This has left a terrible situation amongst retailers in those localities where the law-abiding licensed retailers have taken flavored tobacco off the shelf but the bootleggers and cartels have continued to sell merchandise at an inflated price making increased money.
The result of the local flavored tobacco bans has been illegal products causing not just an unfair practice amongst businesses but more importantly a cause for great concern for where their merchandise is coming from and is it safe for consumers and especially the youth these law are supposedly intended to protect.
“Anyone who voted for Prop 31 should be angry right now and should be demanding answers to questions related to enforcement,” DeMaio concludes.
Help Hold California Politicians Accountable for Results.