Calif voters overwhelmingly confirm ban on flavored tobacco products

After the California legislature and the governor signed a state law ending the sale of almost all flavored tobacco products including menthol, in 2020, the tobacco companies spent $22 million to force a voter referendum.

That suspended the law for two years until the voters could weigh in.

Now they have, crushing Big Tobacco with 65% supporting the ban by voting Yes on Proposition 31.

By getting rid of menthol, flavor bans increase quitting and the broader flavor bans help reduce initiation. That’s why flavor bans as the real harm reduction strategy. Flavor bans not only save lives, they save money by reducing health costs.

Campaign finance reports show that after getting Prop 31 on the ballot the tobacco companies didn’t spend much money to defeat it at the polls. This may have reflected the consistent strong public support for flavor bans; the industry may have decided not to waste its money on a losing campaign. (There is precedent for this, when the industry didn’t waste its money fighting tax ballot measures they were unlikely to defeat.)

This crushing victory for public health forces should help get similar measures passed around the country and around the world. This work remains important because the FDA continues to move slowly in getting rid of menthol and other flavored tobacco products. And even its modest steps end up getting delayed by court challenges.

The campaign provided me with a zip file of all the Yes on 31 ads, which you can download here:

The ban is very broad, but there are exceptions for handmade cigars that cost at least $12, loose leaf tobacco and shisha tobacco sold by licensed hookah retailers.

Published by Stanton Glantz

Stanton Glantz is a retired Professor of Medicine who served on the University of California San Francisco faculty for 45 years. He conducts research on tobacco and cannabis control and cardiovascular disease/

2 thoughts on “Calif voters overwhelmingly confirm ban on flavored tobacco products

  1. We better hurry with our initiatives across the country – before the tobacco flavor gateway kicks in for our precious teens we absolutely so very much care about. Too bad there won’t be no black market to decry though.


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