On Tuesday, California voters voted in favor of Proposition 31, which upholds a 2020 ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products in the state.
Proposition 31 received 62% “yes” votes and 38% “no” votes, based on The New York Times’ reported election results.
The law goes into effect five days after the election is certified, and is set to make California as the largest state in the nation to end the sale of most flavored tobacco — including menthol cigarettes, the American Heart Association noted.
In November 2019, Massachusetts became the first state to ban the sale of all flavored tobacco products, which included menthol cigarettes. In 2020, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island also implemented laws banning the sale of flavored e-cigarettes.
California’s flavored tobacco ban was introduced in August 2020 when California Governor Gavin Newson signed a bill into law that bans the sale of flavored tobacco products in the state. Some of the products included in the ban were menthol cigarettes and e-cigarette flavors. However, the law excluded hookah, premium cigars and loose-leaf tobacco, according to the Los Angeles Times. A campaign funded by Big Tobacco, including R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Philip Morris USA, blocked the law from going into effect, and Proposition 31 was placed on the ballot, putting the issue to the people of California to decide.
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Philip Morris USA helped raise funds for the campaign against Proposition 31, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“This is a disappointment to the millions of adults over the age of 21 who are now prohibited from purchasing these products as well as other FDA-authorized harm-reduction alternatives,” the “no” on Proposition 31 campaign said in a statement, reported the Los Angeles Times.
Opponents believe that the ban will take away an effective product used by smokers trying to quit traditional cigarettes. The opponents also claimed that the new law would hurt a lot of small retailers if people try to purchase these products illegally and that it affects minority communities more, according to the Official Voter Information Guide.
Meanwhile, proponents believe the flavored tobacco sales ban would protect children by stopping the sale of candy-flavored cigarettes, according to the Guide.
The ban is expected to cause sales to decrease along with state tobacco tax revenues. Retailers in California and states that may choose to follow its lead in the future will need to find new methods and products to entice tobacco customers.