Anti-smoking forces outspend cigarette industry on California ballot measure to ban flavored tobacco

By comparability, the trade behind the $80 billion U.S. cigarette market, as soon as a robust drive in American politics, has spent $25 million to oppose the measure.

Prop. 31 is a measure to uphold or repeal SB 793, which banned gross sales of flavored tobacco in shops and merchandising machines. The initiative put the regulation on maintain and trade critics imagine the intent was to extend gross sales so long as doable.

Delaying the enactment of SB 793 meant the tobacco corporations may proceed to absorb about $830 million from menthol cigarettes alone from when the brand new regulation was set to enter impact to start with of 2021, in line with the Sure on Prop 31 marketing campaign.

“The referendum does purchase them a few years,” mentioned Andrew Acosta, a Sacramento political marketing consultant who isn’t concerned on this marketing campaign. “I can see it from a calculated, financial perspective why this is sensible.”

Opponents of the measure argue that the ban is pointless as a result of it’s already unlawful to promote tobacco merchandise to individuals underneath 21. Additionally they say prohibitions, usually, don’t work.

California has long been a tough market for tobacco. It was the primary state to get rid of smoking in workplaces and bars and has among the highest tobacco tax charges and lowest smoking charges within the nation.

The federal authorities has stepped up its regulation in recent times, pulling unauthorized flavored e-cigarettes from the market and, this yr, prohibiting the sale of Juul merchandise this yr and proposing a ban on menthol cigarettes and cigars.

“Tobacco corporations have been clear for years and years that they don’t need their vaping merchandise within the palms of youngsters,” mentioned Beth Miller, spokesperson for the no on Prop 31 marketing campaign.

In the meantime, a rising variety of native and state governments have imposed taste bans, with greater than 130 native governments in California alone taking such motion, in line with the Marketing campaign for Tobacco-Free Youngsters.

Youth smoking and vaping charges in California have began to say no, according to data from the California Healthy Kids Survey. However a Nationwide Youth Tobacco Survey released last month by federal health officials confirmed use of flavored disposable merchandise remains to be fashionable, though the 2022 survey is tough to match as a result of modifications in information assortment procedures through the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bloomberg bankrolling Prop. 31 could be very a lot on model for the well being philanthropist, who funds a variety of health-related pursuits from gun violence to weight problems and chemical air pollution. The previous mayor in 2019 pledged to spend $160 million to ban flavored e-cigarettes nationwide by the tip of this yr.

He has financed different anti-vaping and flavored tobacco initiatives, together with San Francisco’s successful 2018 effort to uphold its sweeping flavor ban. The town went on to develop into the primary within the nation to ban the sale of e-cigarettes fully. Bloomberg, by a spokesperson, declined to talk to POLITICO about his spending to help Prop. 31.

Lindsay Freitas, California director for the Marketing campaign for Tobacco-Free Youngsters, mentioned she’s grateful for the chance the Bloomberg funding offers the marketing campaign to unfold the phrase. However she’s not taking something with no consideration, and she or he’s not placing something previous the trade.

“They’ve spent some huge cash over time,” she mentioned of the tobacco trade. “They spent a ton of cash in San Francisco to attempt to battle this, they spent a ton of cash in Sacramento when this was going by the legislature, and so they’ve spent $20 million to place this on the poll to get us the place we at the moment are.”

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