August 24, 2020

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

California flavor ban (SB 973) advances to full Assembly despite massive campaign against it by Big Tobacco

Last week the California Assembly Appropriations Committee stood up to major pressure from the tobacco companies and their allies 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.


The honest argument the tobacco companies would make is this:  We need flavors, especially menthol, to keep targeting kids and other important groups like African Americans, so we can keep our profits up.


But, I guess the companies don’t think that would sell.


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