AG Becerra Files Legal Brief Defending Ban on Flavored Tobacco Products

On Thursday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a brief in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California defending SB 793 by Senator Jerry Hill which banned the sale of flavored tobacco products statewide. Recall, SB 793 was nearly immediately signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom in late August. Following its passage, tobacco industry entities, including R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and Philip Morris USA, filed a statewide referendum to attempt to overturn the flavored tobacco ban. Last month, the same entities also sued the State of California in an attempt to stop the measure from going into effect in January 2021.

Plaintiffs in the suit argue that the law is preempted by the federal Tobacco Control Act. Becerra’s legal brief argues that SB 793 is critical in protecting the health and safety of California residents and is a valid exercise of state authority under the federal Tobacco Control Act. Becerra further argues that the court should reject the tobacco companies’ motion for a preliminary injunction because the tobacco companies are unlikely to succeed on the merits and the equities strongly favor allowing SB 793 to take effect as originally scheduled.

In a statement, Attorney General Becerra notes, “Every day, thousands of young Americans will smoke their first cigarette, starting down the path toward a lifelong addiction to nicotine. Postponing enforcement of SB 793 would only serve to put our children’s health and safety at further risk. Tobacco companies have tried and failed to bring this sort of case before, and we believe they will fail again.”

A copy of the legal brief is available here. A press announcement from the Office of the Attorney General is available here.