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California Voters Uphold Ban on Flavored Tobacco Merchandise

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California turned the biggest U.S. state to ban flavored tobacco merchandise on Tuesday, the Related Press reports, with voters upholding a regulation that restricts the sale of merchandise together with menthol cigarettes and fruit-flavored vaping liquids.

As of Wednesday morning, 41% of Californians’ ballots had been counted. Inside that group, nearly two-thirds voted in favor of the ban, in accordance with the Related Press, which was sufficient to declare a win. The coverage doesn’t apply to hookah, premium cigars, or loose-leaf tobacco.

It was an extended and costly street to succeed in that final result. California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill banning the sale of flavored tobacco in 2020, but it surely was met with robust pushback from the tobacco trade. Greater than 620,000 verified voters signed on to a Big Tobacco-backed initiative to reverse the regulation, touchdown the problem on ballots this 12 months as Proposition 31. Voters may both choose to uphold or repeal the regulation.

Massachusetts turned the primary U.S. state to ban flavored-tobacco gross sales in 2019, and several other states—together with New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island—have positioned related restrictions on some flavored merchandise. Traditionally, California has favored tobacco regulation. In 2019, San Francisco turned the primary U.S. metropolis to ban vaping products, and the cities of Beverly Hills and Manhattan Seashore have since outlawed nearly all tobacco gross sales—flavored or unflavored.

Nonetheless, Proposition 31 turned the nation’s most populous state right into a battleground. Tobacco corporations together with Philip Morris USA and R.J. Reynolds reportedly spent more than $20 million on their marketing campaign to reverse the ban—a determine dwarfed by the funding offered by billionaire anti-tobacco advocate Michael Bloomberg in help of the regulation. According to Politico, Bloomberg personally contributed many of the $71 million spent in help of the ban.

Bloomberg and different anti-tobacco advocates have fought for years to restrict the provision of flavored tobacco. They notched an enormous win earlier this 12 months, when the U.S. Meals and Drug Administration announced its intent to ban the sale of menthol cigarettes, citing their position in hooking new people who smoke and preserving present customers addicted. However opponents argue that menthol bans solely push users to non-flavored tobacco products and will add to discriminatory policing points, since menthol cigarettes are disproportionately utilized by Black Individuals.

There’s additionally loads of debate over the position of flavors in e-cigarettes. Taste-ban proponents level to knowledge that present underage vapers overwhelmingly choose flavored products as a substitute of people who style like tobacco. They argue that prohibiting flavored vaping liquids may dissuade younger individuals from choosing up the behavior and probably turning into hooked on nicotine. In the meantime, some researchers and vaping advocates word that adults who use e-cigarettes to transition away from lethal flamable cigarettes also like flavored products and won’t make the change if palatable flavors weren’t accessible.

Extra Election Protection From TIME

Write to Jamie Ducharme at jamie.ducharme@time.com.

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