The World Vapers’ Alliance, Consumer Choice Center and the American Vaping Association representing hundreds of thousands consumers urge California State Assembly members to repeal the flavored tobacco ban bill in California because it could push more than 900,000 adult vapers back to smoking. This alliance also calls for the endorsement of harm reduction.

Dear California State Assembly members, 

The flavored tobacco ban bill (CA SB793) will have catastrophic consequences for public health, small businesses, and consumers. These measures will have a disproportionate impact on people of color, who overwhelmingly prefer flavored products and will also suffer the most from criminalization and over-policing that follows these restrictions and bans.

California is now the second most restrictive state in the United States for vapers when it comes to vaping regulation. Apart from the flavor ban, California already has an excise tax of 57% of the wholesale price of vaping products and has prohibited the online sales of flavored products. The only state with a worse environment for vaping than California is New York! 

Vaping is at least 95% less harmful than smoking and countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada, and New Zealand recommend that current smokers switch to electronic cigarettes. These actions have helped begin the process of saving millions of lives. In fact, policies promoting vaping arguably achieved more in a short period of time than what lawmakers have tried to accomplish for years: fewer people smoking cigarettes.

Research from the Consumer Choice Center and the World Vapers’ Alliance shows that, if enacted, more than 900,000 vapers in California could switch back to smoking. That is more than the entire population of San Francisco. Instead of improving public health by reducing the number of smokers, this law will have the opposite effect: more people smoking again. Furthermore, as we learned from this country’s experience with marijuana, there remains no evidence that prohibition prevents young people from experimenting with adult substances.  

In the absence of flavors, consumers will be left with just three dreadful options: returning to smoking, buying their liquids out of state, or moving to the black market.

To avoid tragic and deadly interactions with police, like Eric Garner in New York, we cannot resort to restricting or banning products that adult consumers clearly have a demand for.

Instead of making it harder for smokers to switch to less harmful alternatives, California needs to embrace the concept of harm reduction. The goal is to reduce adverse consequences among persons who are not willing or not able to quit smoking. Instead of an ineffective “zero-tolerance approach” and idealized goals, we need practical solutions to improve public health. One proven method to reduce harm for smokers is vaping.

California was once regarded as the center of innovation because of its openness towards new technologies. This spirit needs to be brought back into state politics if we want to see it become successful again. Therefore, together we urge you to legalize flavors again!

Policy recommendations: 

  • Repeal SB793 and guarantee access to vaping products for adults: variety and affordability must be ensured
  • Strongly commit to the general concept of harm reduction  
  • Endorse e-cigarettes as an effective tool to help smokers move to a safer alternative to consume nicotine and eventually quit if they desire to do so
  • Protect the choice of majority and minority communities to avoid over-policing and criminalization