Uphold ban on flavored tobacco products
What did voters decide?
Proposition 31 passed easily, with 63.5% of the vote.
What will it do?
The referendum decided whether to overturn a 2020 law that prohibits the sale of some flavored tobacco products. A “yes” vote upheld the current law; a “no” vote would have struck down the law and allow the sale of flavored tobacco products.
The approval of Prop. 31 will impact the state budget because the state could lose as much as $100 million in annual tobacco tax revenue from the sale of flavored tobacco.
Why was 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. After Prop. 31 passed, R.J. Reynolds sued the state over the ban.
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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.
- Yes on 31 committee
- American Lung Association
- American Heart Association
- SEIU California
- Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids
- California State PTA
- California Democratic Party
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.
- 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
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