Proposition 31 would maintain the ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products

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As Election Day on November 8 approaches, KPIX 5 offers a series of reports highlighting the candidates as well as the metrics and issues affecting voters.

BERKELEY — Proposition 31 asks voters in November to enforce a 2020 law banning the retail sale of certain flavored tobacco products in person or from vending machines. The problem is getting people on both sides to share their personal relationships in favor and in opposition to Proposition 31.

“If it’s not there, it’s not something that’s constantly on the minds of students,” said Shriya Ramdas, a second-year pre-med student at UC Berkeley. “We don’t have a panacea against cancer and so the easiest and best way to prevent these unnecessary deaths is to prevent cancer and especially to prevent it at a young age.”

Ramdas has volunteered for the American Cancer Society since she was in high school and spent time on campus this fall trying to raise awareness about Prop 31 between classes and studying for exams. She hopes to convince more eligible voters her age to support Proposition 31. The “Yes” campaign has argued that 80% of underage tobacco users started with flavored products, according to a 2015 report from the Journal of American Medical Association. Proponents also point out that the US Surgeon General and the FDA label youth e-cigarette use an epidemic.

“A lot of young people don’t really know how this is going to lead them to cancer,” she told KPIX 5. “I felt like the use was much more prevalent in high school than I see in college, which is a shame.”

A “No” vote on Proposition 31 would allow in-person sales at stores and vending machines of flavored tobacco products and tobacco product flavor enhancers to continue, as permitted by other federal, state policies. and local. Many Bay Area communities have already banned the sale of these products, these laws would not change if Prop 31 failed.

“They don’t care about the law, they’re going to do it anyway,” said Frank Sohrabi, co-owner of Vapor Devils in Southern California. “Everything this law is going to do is going to make it difficult for people to buy it legitimately.”

Sohrabi’s store is located in a part of the state where there is no current ban on flavored tobacco products. But he worries about how Prop 31 will affect his business and the people who have turned to vaping products to quit using traditional cigarettes. He smoked for 20 years but switched to e-cigarettes and decided to open a vaping product store.

“You know, you could get a lot of people to start smoking cigarettes again and bankrupt us for no reason,” he told KPIX 5. “You’re not going to stop this, if they do. illegally, they do it illegally.”

He explains that everyone has to show ID and that adults like the flavors. If Prop 31 passes, he worries about an increase in crime due to illegal sales and the loss of a regulated place to buy these products. He also says that his staff will find themselves unemployed since his store does not sell any other products. It’s a business he built over 10 years with his personal savings invested in the store.

“If I don’t have juice or flavors as you call it, to sell, what am I going to sell?” Sohrabi said.

Opponents of the proposal argue that youth vaping use has plummeted over the past three years and youth smoking is at an all-time low, according to a CDC and FDA investigation. They also claim that the state will lose $1 billion in tax revenue over the next four years.

But Proponents of Proposition 31 also claimed the state would save at least $800 million in tobacco-related health costs with a California-wide ban.

“There is a very simple way to prevent children from becoming addicted and that is to ban the sale,” Ramdas said.

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