Prop. 31

Uphold ban on flavored tobacco products

What would it do?

The referendum will decide whether to overturn a 2020 law that prohibits the sale of some flavored tobacco products. A “yes” vote upholds the current law; a “no” vote would strike down the law and allow the sale of flavored tobacco products. 

The outcome of Prop. 31 would impact the state budget because if the law is upheld the state could lose as much as $100 million in annual tobacco tax revenue from the sale of flavored tobacco.

Why is it on the ballot?

In 2020, the Democratic-controlled Legislature passed and Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law to ban the sale of certain flavored tobacco products — including those made to taste like cotton candy, honey and mango — as well as menthol cigarettes, both in stores and in vending machines. 

The ban includes flavored cigarettes, e-cigarettes, pods for vape pens, tank-based systems and chewing tobacco. The law does not affect premium handmade cigars, loose leaf tobacco and hookah tobacco sold by certain hookah tobacco retailers and used at the store.

The law was intended to keep flavored tobacco away from kids and teens, who report in high numbers that they often started smoking with a flavored product. According to Tobacco Free Kids, youth smokers 12 to 17 use menthol cigarettes more than other age groups. At least 60 cities and counties across California have already banned the sale of some flavored tobacco products and menthol cigarettes. 

The law has not gone into effect yet because tobacco companies funded and qualified this referendum.

One Minute Video

Prop 31

Arguments

For

Supporters of Prop. 31 say the law prohibiting the sale of flavored tobacco products will protect youth because 80% of kids who use tobacco start with a flavored product. This law would prevent companies from targeting kids and teens with advertising for flavored products. 

Advocates of the law also say it will help lower smoking rates, especially among people of color, who experience higher rates of smoking-related illnesses. Some African American groups say the tobacco industry has targeted their community for decades.

Supporters

  • Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids
  • California State PTA
  • California Democratic Party

Against

Opponents say the flavored tobacco ban is unnecessary because there are already laws on the books prohibiting the sale of all tobacco products to minors. They argue that banning flavored tobacco products infringes on the rights of adults who use the products and say a prohibition would increase underground markets and lead to more crime. 

They also say this law is discriminatory against adults who use flavored tobacco to help them quit smoking, and especially against African Americans who favor menthol cigarettes. 

Opponents

  • No on 31 committee
  • R.J. Reynolds Tobacco 
  • American Snuff Co.
  • President of California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce
  • California Republican Party
  • President of California Taxpayer Protection Committee
  • President of CalAsian Chamber of Commerce
  • CEO of Central Valley Business Federation

CalMatters is nonpartisan and nonprofit.

We are dedicated to keeping Californians informed on critical state news. We can’t do that without support from people like you.

Loading Gimme Props…

Loading campaign finance data…
Prop 31