In today’s rendition of what’s going on with overly harsh regulations in the Golden State, state officials interrupted their plans to enact a ban on flavored tobacco on Friday, Jan. 22. The state’s plans to go through with the ban were only halted thanks to intervention from Big Tobacco.

Revisiting the Roots of the Golden State’s Flavored Tobacco Product Ban

On Aug. 28, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill No. 793 into law. This came just four days after the California State Assembly initially passed the bill.

State Senator Jerry Hill initially proposed a bill that banned flavored tobacco products in mid-2019. Although he soon after withdrew it because he didn’t agree with additions made by the Senate Appropriations Committee. Hill later reintroduced a similar bill, SB 793, in mid-2020.

Hill believes that flavors, including those in smokeless products and menthol cigarettes, unfairly draws interest from minors. Other flavored products that would’ve been covered by the ban include e-cigarettes, cigarillos, cigars, and other vaping devices.

The main exclusions to the ban include:

  • Flavored tobacco intended for use in water pipes, often called bongs
  • Cigars that cost upward of $12
  • Loose-leaf chewable tobacco

Big Tobacco Showed Up Big Time

In California, individuals, organizations, businesses, and groups can get items of interest included on upcoming state election ballots. To qualify, petitioners must collect signatures totaling at least 5% of the votes in the previous California gubernatorial election.

Big Tobacco, specifically the California Coalition for Fairness, managed to get the 623,212 signatures it needed to argue Senate Bill 793 in the Nov. 2022 election.

Insider reports suggest that major tobacco companies like Philip Morris USA and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. drummed up over $21 million to fill its petition with signatures.