Proposition 31: Uphold flavored tobacco ban

Submitted by Oscar Daniel Jimenez Iniguez / Community Journalism

On Nov. 8, Califirnians will decide who wins seats in the House of Representatives and the Senate, along with seven different propositions. One of those is Prop. 31, which aims to uphold the ban on flavored tobacco products and flavor enhancers. 

California voters will have the final say in whether the state bans in-person stores and vending machines from selling flavored tobacco products and enhancers or not.

The proposition is a referendum on a 2020 Senate Bill (SB) 793 passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom. However, the law did not go fully into effect as a referendum on the law is first required before it goes through.

Those in the California State Legislature who originally voted for the proposition in 2020 were 84 out of 89 Democrats, and 8 out of 30 Republicans.

Some major proponents for the proposition are Newsom, the California Democratic Party, the American Heart Association, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the California Teachers Association, and League of Women Voters of California, and the American Lung Association. 

“Big Tobacco has been targeting our kids, trying to hook our kids on tobacco products, killing literally a generation. It’s time for us to stand up and protect our kids and to push back against Big Tobacco, not just in terms of their efforts to go after our kids but their racist marketing,” said Newsom. “Enough’s enough, this is about as easy a question that we’ll be asked this November.”

Proponents believe that voting yes on Prop. 31, will prevent tobacco companies from advertising to children and teens. As well as lowering the smoking rate for minority groups who have high rates of illness linked to smoking.

Major opponents of the proposition are the Republican Party of California, Philip Morris USA, R.J Reynolds Tobacco Company, ITG Brands, California Coalition for Fairness, Swedish Match North America, American Snuff Co and the CEO of Central Valley Business Federation.

“We agree that youth should never have access to any tobacco products, but this can be achieved without imposing a total prohibition on products that millions of adults choose to use,” said the California Coalition of Fairness. “This law goes too far and is unfair, particularly since lawmakers have exempted hookah, expensive cigars and flavored pipe tobacco from the prohibition.”  

“Moreover, a prohibition will hurt small, local businesses and jobs as products are pushed from licensed, conscientious retailers to an underground market, leading to increased youth access, crime and other social or criminal justice concerns for many California residents.”

Opponents who are advocating no for Prop. 31 say that a ban on tobacco flavors is not needed as laws are in place that don’t allow for the products to be sold to minors in the first place. As well as infringing on the rights of consenting adults who use these products.

The total number of contributions in support of Prop. 31 is $6.2 million. While the opposition’s total contribution is three times more with $22.9 million. 

The highest donor for support of the proposition is Michael R. Blomberg with $4.29 million. Followed by the Kaiser Foundation Health plan with $1.1 million and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, and American Lung Association all with $100 thousand.

In opposition to the proposition, the highest donor is R.J Reynolds Tobacco Company with $9.46 million and Philip Morris USA with a close $9.34 million. American Snuff Company contributed $826 thousand while both ITG Brands and Swedish Match North American gave $500 thousand.

If you put YES on the ballot for Prop. 31, you will be voting for California to ban some flavored tobacco products and flavor enhancers from being sold at in-person stores and vending machines.

If you put NO on the ballot for Prop. 31, you will be voting for California to allow in-person stores and vending machines under local rules, federal and state laws to continue to sell flavored tobacco products and flavor enhancers.

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