Flavored tobacco products soon to be banned in California


California’s Proposition 31 – to allow a state law banning flavored tobacco products to go into effect – passed overwhelmingly last week, spurring the issue of when these products can no longer be sold.

The answer is in December of this year. Under California law, passed ballot measures take effect five days after the secretary of state’s office certifies the election results. The deadline to certify is December 16, which means that at the latest, the ban will take effect on December 21. In the previous two statewide elections in November (2020 and 2018), the Secretary of State’s office certified the election on Deadline Day.

Proposition 31 will allow Senate Bill 793, which was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom in August 2020, to become law. The bill was frozen when the tobacco giants used the referendum veto process to force the issue onto this year’s ballot. The coalition collected over a million signatures at the end of 2020 to temporarily block the law until this year; 623,212 valid signatures were required.

Most of Prop’s funding. 31 came from former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Campaign finance records reviewed by SFGATE in October showed Bloomberg was responsible for a whopping 90% of the race money spent by both parties. Perhaps sensing that Prop. 31 was a lost cause (polls had shown the measure was likely to pass), the tobacco giants made no attempt to match Bloomberg’s contributions. The tobacco companies, however, filed a final lawsuit in federal court last week in an attempt to delay implementation again.

Under Senate Bill 793, retailers who sell flavored tobacco products after the ban goes into effect will be subject to fines of $250 for each violation. Some localities with their own bans, such as San Francisco, have stiffer penalties such as license suspensions, and Senate Bill 793 allows “the adoption of a local standard that imposes greater restrictions on the access to tobacco products“.

The other two California ballot measures that have been passed — Proposition 1 (extended abortion protections) and Proposition 28 (funding for school music and arts programs) — will also go into effect five days after certification of the elections.

The immediate impacts of Prop. 1 are unlikely to be felt by residents of the state unless Republicans take control of the state and attempt to restrict access to abortion (a highly unlikely scenario), and the impacts of Prop . 28 can be felt when legislators get to work. on the next state budget. Prop. 28 requires the state to devote a fixed portion of the general fund to arts and music programs, but since the measure does not raise taxes, funding must come from elsewhere in the general fund. The California Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates the new funding of about $1 billion represents less than 0.5% of the state’s total general fund budget, but the office also estimates the state will face a budget shortfall. $25 billion next year. In other words, Proposition 28 will add a wrinkle, albeit minimal, to the budget process this spring.


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