California Abandons Bill Banning Flavored Tobacco Products; while elsewhere in America bans are growing in popularity

After objections by harm reduction groups, tobacco manufacturers, and dwindling support amongst advocates, California law-makers have temporarily set-aside a proposed bill that would have banned flavored tobacco products.

The Bill, SB-38, was proposed in November of 2018, in an effort to combat what Californian Sen. Jerry Hill (D) called an “appalling epidemic of e-cigarette use by youths.” Originally, it was intended to affect both flavored cigarettes and flavored e-juices. However, after lobbying by the tobacco industry, hookahs and several flavors used widely within tobacco products were exempted from the bill, causing health organizations, such as the American Cancer Society Action Network and American Heart Association, to withdraw their support. On May 23, 2019, it was abandoned altogether, however there is still a possibility it will be revived in the future as more and more governing bodies in America are advocating for bans and raised age restrictions for flavored tobacco products.

On May 13, 2019, Lilydale, Minnesota City Council raised the minimum age for purchasing tobacco products to 21 and banned the sale of flavored tobacco products within city limits. This was done, once again to attempt to reduce the number of youth tobacco and nicotine consumers.

What many of these law-makers do not seem to grasp if that by restricting the availability of flavored tobacco products, individuals who are addicted to nicotine will be left with pure tobacco products, such as traditional cigarettes, which studies show are far more harmful to personal health than flavored tobacco products are.

It’s true that e-cigarette usage is rising in popularity, but at the same time traditional cigarette sales are declining. Contrary to how many law-makers frame the issue, the tobacco industry as a whole is not experiencing exponential growth, it’s just going through a period in which users transition from one product to safer, alternative products. This is a huge improvement for risks to peoples’ health as individuals are choosing harm reduction products over products that have a proven ability to cause damage. I’m no law-maker, but to me it seems a bit counter-productive to ban harm reduction products, with the justification that the ban will reduce harm to peoples’ health.

What do you think? Are American law-makers really looking out for youth and the greater population’s health? Comment below!

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