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Prop 31 in California is likely the final step of Senate Bill 793 (SB 793), a bill introduced and passed in the California State that would ban the sale of flavored vapes. Originally, SB 793 was a bill that was passed that banned the sale of any flavored tobacco product or flavor enhancers for tobacco products. At first, SB 793 passed. However, due to how California’s legislation works, it was challenged and the division will be given to voters during election season this November.
To clarify, yes, tobacco-free nicotine products would also be under SB 793 as they are now federally classified as tobacco products. So would anything that introduces new flavors to nicotine or cigarettes, including flavor additives to cigarettes or mix and vape style vape liquids.
Due to how confusing wording on ballots can be, this is the simplest way to know which way you want to vote on California’s Prop 31.
YES for Prop 31 means that you are FOR the ban on flavored tobacco products.
NO means that you are AGAINST the ban on flavored tobacco products.
Despite the logic behind the bill concluding that flavors make children smoke, there are still exemptions in the bill for hookah, pipe tobacco, and luxury cigars. Cigars and pipe tobacco are generally seen as high expense goods that do not market towards a young audience.
Sadly, whether or not the bill passes may not mean much. SB 793, the bill that outlined California’s vape ban, was written before the Pre Market Tobacco Application (PMTA) rejections made nearly all flavored vapes illegal to sell. That means most flavored vapes would still be illegal to sell in California, regardless of whether or not Prop 31 passes voter referendum.
Most supporters for Proposition 31 are for protection children from nicotine addiction. Most opponents of Proposition 31 stated that banning flavors does not stop children from vaping - ultimately, Prop 31 will simply hurt small stores and encourage a black market.
The arguments for and against Prop 31 are both rather old - we have seen the rise of a vape black market in the popularity of disposable vapes already. Many small stores simply did not survive the PMTA decisions. However, despite removing most legally available vape products from the market, youth vaping has only gone up.
Despite how bleak the situation sounds, voting is still important - There are many other, non-vape related pieces of legislation and officials to vote for besides Proposition 31.
So what happens now that it has passed?
At the moment, nothing much will happen. The FDA has only approved tobacco flavored vapes and devices. Since tobacco flavored nicotine products are considered unflavored, there are no legal vapes being sold in stores affected by the flavor ban.
The situation will change if there are new types of tobacco products developed, or if the FDA authorizes a flavored tobacco product.
However, implementation and enforcement of Proposition 31 may be on hold for a while longer. A group of tobacco companies, primarily ones owned by R.J. Reynolds is trying to challenge Proposition 31 in court.
According to the U.S. Constitution, when state and federal law conflict, federal law always takes precedence over state law.
The tobacco companies are suing under the grounds that Proposition 31 is unconstitutional. California’s state laws could potentially ban products which have received FDA marketing approval orders. The conflict arises when the federal law states those products are legal, but California law would say they are illegal.
Some supporters of Proposition 31 think Reynolds is suing to delay the enforcement, buying them more time to sell their menthol cigarettes. However, the only thing most of us can do now is wait.
The Supreme court has denied the challenge of Proposition 31 by R.J. Reynolds. After a long time being contested and sent back and forth, Proposition 31 will take effect. The retail sale of all flavored tobacco products in physical stores will no longer be allowed in California.
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