FILE - Vaping e-cigarette flavors

E-cigarette flavors on a shelf at a vape shop.

(The Center Square) – As of January 2021, the buying and selling of e-cigarettes and all flavored tobacco products, including menthol, in California will be illegal. The bill excludes premium cigars and hookah tobacco.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill (SB) 793 into law, which prohibits retailers from selling electronic (”e”)-cigarette cartridges and flavored cigarettes. The ban is designed to prevent teens and tweens from vaping. Violators will be fined $250 for each offense.

The law comes after 78 cities and counties in California, including Los Angeles County, have already implemented restrictions on flavored tobacco.

California is now the second state to ban all tobacco flavors, including menthol, following Massachusetts. New York and New Jersey have banned flavored e-cigarette products already.

Juul, the largest seller of vaping products, already restricts online sales to customers over age 21 in an effort to prevent teens and tweens from vaping.

Last month, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., sent a letter to the FDA requesting the agency temporarily remove vaping products from the market.

According to a 2018 Centers for Disease Control report, 67 percent of high school students and 49 percent of middle school students who used tobacco products within the 30 days prior to the study said they used a flavored tobacco product.

Nina Shapiro at Forbes notes that “none of the online sales will be affected by the bill, even if products are shipped to California. Adolescents and young adults and teens under age 25 comprise over 60 percent of e-cigarette users.”

The tobacco industry implemented a media blitz of television and social media ads in California arguing the legislation was “giving special treatment to the rich, and singling out communities of color” by banning menthol products.

Tony Abboud, executive director of the Vapor Technology Association, a trade group for the electronic cigarette industry, told the Los Angeles Times it was “examining all response options at this time.”

Abboud said the new law is “bad policy” because product bans simply don’t work.

According to a Truth Iniative report, 19.2 percent of Minnesota high school students who vape are minors who are prohibited from purchasing the products.

Ulrik Boesen at the Tax Foundation notes that the American Cancer Society concluded that based on current available information, vaping is less harmful than smoking.

“In other words, vapor products could be a key tool in the fight against tobacco-related morbidity and mortality,” Boesen argues.