Tobacco Industry Files Referendum to Overturn Flavored Tobacco Ban

Just days after receiving final legislative approval and being signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, California’s flavored tobacco ban faces yet another challenge by the tobacco industry. SB 793 by Senator Jerry Hill bans the sale of flavored tobacco products statewide, including mint and menthol products. The measure faced significant opposition from the tobacco industry and retailers leading up to the final days of the 2019-20 Legislative Session, but ultimately won approval of the legislature and governor last week.

On Monday, legal representatives of retailers and the tobacco industry, including tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds, filed paperwork with the Secretary of State to initiate the referendum process. Proponents of the referendum to overturn SB 793 must collect 623,212 signatures to qualify the referendum for the ballot. If opponents collect enough signatures, the flavored tobacco ban would be placed on hold until voters are given a chance to weigh in, possibly in 2022.

Senator Jerry Hill, author of SB 793, denounced the move by the newly formed group, California Coalition for Fairness. Hill remarked, “California fought Big Tobacco and won. This shameless industry is a sore loser and it is relentless. It wants to keep killing people with its candy-, fruit-, mint-, and menthol-flavored poison. The adults who are hooked on nicotine aren’t enough for Big Tobacco; it wants our kids too.”

CHEAC supported SB 793 and was a proud participant in the coalition of cosponsors, including the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, American Lung Association, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Common Sense, and the Office of Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis.