Premium cigars scored a victory on Tuesday as they, along with pipe tobacco, were removed from SB 793, a bill in California seeking to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products.

The exemption came by way of an amendment made during a hearing in the Assembly Health Committee, which went onto pass the bill by a 10-2 vote, with three members not voting. The committee recognized that premium cigars and pipe tobacco are both products that do not target children, and thus deserved an exemption from the ban.

“Senator Jerry Hill’s worthy and hard-fought legislation to ban flavored tobacco products, passed the Assembly Health Committee today with amendments to exempt premium cigars and pipe tobacco, products that do not target children,” said Assemblymember Jim Wood, D-Santa Rosa, and chairman of the Assembly Health Committee. “This legislation will save lives and prevent our young people from taking up the deadly and addictive habit of smoking.”

Wood added that while he did not agree with the exemptions, being able to come to a compromise with his colleagues in order to advance the legislation was the greater good. “Perfect can sometimes be the enemy of the good, however frustrating that may be, but today we had a win for the public’s health, and sent a message to big tobacco to take a hike,” he said.

SB 793 is now being re-referred to the Assembly Committee on Appropriations, and must still go before the full Assembly for a vote.

The bill passed the Senate in June without any exemptions, meaning that should the Assembly pass it, the two chambers will have to come to a compromise before it can be sent to Gov. Gavin Newsom for his signature. Should that happen, it would seem inevitable that it would be met with legal challenges, as several notable tobacco companies have already sued Los Angeles and San Diego Counties over similar bans.

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Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and previously the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for Major League Baseball, plus I'm a voice over artist. Prior to joining halfwheel, I covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.