The California State Senate has approved a bill that would ban the sale of flavored tobacco products within the state, a move that comes amidst a number of lawsuits filed at least two municipalities trying to do the same thing.
The bill, SB 793, would prohibit a tobacco retailer from selling or possessing with the intent to sell any flavored tobacco product or a tobacco product flavor enhancer. That would apply to traditional smokable tobacco products such as cigars, cigarillos and pipe tobacco, as well as non-combustible products such as chewing tobacco, snuff, and tobacco edibles. It would also extend to electronic smoking devices such as e-cigarettes, e-hookahs, e-pips and other vaping products. All flavors and aromas beyond that of tobacco would be prohibited, including mint, menthol, candy and fruit flavorings.
It does, however, include an exemption for hookah tobacco retailers, who would be subject to certain regulations, including prohibiting persons under 21-years-old from being allowed to enter the premises.
Violators would be subject to a fine of $250 for each occurrence, and it would allow cities and counties to impose stricter penalties than those provided by the state law.
It passed the Senate with a 33 to 4 vote on Thursday.
The bill’s passage comes amidst a pair of lawsuits filed against similar bans; on June 1, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, American Snuff Company, LLC, and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company, Inc. filed a complaint against Los Angeles County, while Edina, Minn. was sued by that same group after it passed a similar ban in mid June.
The bill now heads to the California Assembly for debate.
Update — Shortly after this article was published, clarification about the hookah exemption was added.