Tobacco Center Faculty Blog

August 24, 2020

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Last week the California Assembly Appropriations Committee stood up to major pressure from the tobacco companies and their allies ad advanced SB 793, which prohibits the sale of almost all flavored tobacco products – including menthol – in California to the full Assembly on a strong 13-3 vote with 2 abstaining.

To become law the Assembly needs to pass the bill and the Senate needs to agree to the Assembly amendments by August 31.

The industry did succeed in getting a few exemptions as the bill moved through the process, including for flavored hookah, premium cigars, and pipe tobacco. While these exemptions are unfortunate the key provisions, banning menthol and including e-cigarettes, little cigars, and smokeless tobacco, remain intact.

Now, the tobacco companies are using the exemptions they won to argue against the bill in a massive advertising campaign directed at legislators in a last ditch effort to stop the bill.  (See below for one example).  Does this mean that Big Tobacco would support the bill without these exemptions?  Of course not.

So far, California’s political leaders have seen through these disingenuous arguments.  Indeed, they are an insult to the intelligence of our legislators.

August 20, 2020

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Big tobacco mounts ad blitz against Calif flavor ban (SB 793) making its usual failing arguments

The big tobacco companies have launched a multi-million dollar ad campaign in a last ditch effort to stop SB 793.  My favorite ad so far is one urging Assembly members to vote against the bill because it will reduce anti-tobacco education (copy below).  Their unstated argument is that without flavors kids would buy fewer tobacco products, which would reduce tobacco taxes, some of which goes to education to reduce tobacco use.

This is the same argument that they made in their unsuccessful campaign to defeat Proposition 56, a big tobacco tax on the ballot in 2016. 

The public wasn’t tricked by this argument then.  Hopefully the Assembly won’t be tricked now.

A related argument that the tobacco interests are making is that SB 793 would reduce tax income to the state at a time of growing demands because of COVID-19 and, now, wildfires. 

While it is true that SB 793 would reduce tobacco tax income, it is likely that there would be a net increase in California economic activity, including associated tax income.

August 18, 2020

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Senator Jerry Hill and Assemblymembers Kevin McCarty and Jim Wood have written the FDA urging it to take immediate action against illegal therapeutic and modified risk claims that Swedish Match (through a lobbyist) is making about their products.  (PDF of letter)


This is yet another example of tobaco companies misrepresenting FDA action on their products.  The FDA needs to heed their request and begin immediate enforcement actions.


August 18, 2020

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Today SB 793, Sen. Jerry Hill’s bill to end the sale of almost all flavored tobacco products – including menthol – faces its last committee vote before going to the full Assembly.  In an effort to get an exception for smokeless products, last week lobbying firm Norwood Associates wrote members of the Assembly Appropriations Committee arguing that because FDA had authorized (not “approved” as Norwood claimed) sale of Swedish Match snus, the committee should amend SB 793 to exempt flavored smokeless tobacco.

Bonnie Halper-Felsher, Lauren Lempert and I wrote the committee pointing out the misrepresentations of the FDA action in the Norwood letter and, more important, flavored smokeless tobacco is popular with youth and likely to get more popular if it is the only youth-friendly flavored tobacco product on the market.

We also tell the Committee that Norwood – on behalf of Swedish Match – has made illegal cessation claims for snus and Swedish Match’s even-more-youth-friendly ZYN nicotine pouches.

August 15, 2020

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Companies that violate laws intended to protect kids from nicotine addiction, tobacco-related diseases and death can face penalties ranging from a slap on the hand to seizure and removal from the market.

The FDA Center for Tobacco Products has several options for enforcing against tobacco companies that violate the law.  They can assess civil money penalties, obtain injunctions, impose no-tobacco sales orders, or seize and remove products from the market.

The first step is for FDA to issue a warning letter.