California Bans Sale Of Flavored Tobacco Products, Including E-Cigarettes

The state's new law will prohibit the sale of flavored cigarettes and vaping cartridges but exempts hookah products, loose-leaf pipe tobacco and premium cigars.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a bill Friday that will outlaw the retail sale of flavored tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes.

The ban is slated to go into effect Jan. 1 and is aimed at curbing the use of such products by young people, the Los Angeles Times reported. Supporters of the new law said that fruit, candy and menthol flavors make smoking and vaping more appealing to kids.

“Menthol cigarettes, sweet cigars, candy vapes and other flavored tobacco products serve one purpose: to mask the harshness of tobacco and get users hooked to a dangerous lifelong addiction,” said state Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), the bill’s author, in a statement to the San Francisco Chronicle.

E-cigarettes do not contain tobacco. But cartridges and disposable e-cigarettes that contain nicotine are considered tobacco products in the United States because nicotine is derived from tobacco.

Disposable vape devices on display at a store in Brooklyn, New York, in February.
Disposable vape devices on display at a store in Brooklyn, New York, in February.
AP Photo/Marshall Ritzel

The new law does not apply to online sales and does not prohibit possession. There are also carve-outs for hookah products, loose-leaf tobacco and so-called “premium” cigars.

Those found in violation of the law will be subject to a $250 fine for each violation.

The bill faced opposition from the smoking and vaping industries. Makers of electronic cigarettes said that vaping helps smokers quit traditional cigarettes and that appealing flavors make the transition easier.

But though e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco ― an ingredient known for its detrimental effects on health ― organizations such as the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society have said that e-cigarettes may contain other harmful substances and that little is known about their long-term effects.

California is the second state — after Massachusetts — to pass a statewide ban on all flavored tobacco products. Several states have passed various bans and restrictions aimed at flavored vaping products, and similar laws also exist at the local level, including in San Francisco.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a federal ban on the production and sale of some, but not all, flavored vaping products.

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