California voters will decide on a statewide ban on flavored tobacco this November.
Proposition 31 is a referendum on a 2020 law that bans the sale of most flavored tobacco products.
The issue is now going before California voters.
E-cigarettes and vapes have led to a spike in flavored tobacco use in recent years.
“The tobacco industry cannot exist if they don't recruit new smokers to replace their customers who are dying and how they do that is they prey upon our young people which they have been doing for decades,” said Carol McGruder with the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council, which is part of the Yes on 31 campaign.
Proposition 31 would ban the sale of most tobacco products that have added flavors. It would apply to storefronts and vending machines across California.
Supporters say the measure is about protecting children and teens from being enticed by candy-flavored products.
The No on 31 campaign says that the initiative is an unnecessary prohibition on those 21 and older, saying, “It is already illegal to sell any tobacco product to anyone under the age of 21 in California. That restriction and the California Department of Public Health’s education efforts are working. Youth vaping is down 59 percent over the last three years.”
Some cities have already banned the sale of flavored tobacco, including Santa Maria and San Luis Obispo.
“The only incentive for young kids to do it is because they’re like ‘oh, wow, blueberry aloe vera,” said Cal Poly wrestler Luka Wick, who agrees that flavored products draw in new smokers.
“I think that banning the flavor will make kids not want to even try it. I know kids don’t want to smoke because smoking a cigarette tastes like crap,” he said.
Others agree with that sentiment but are concerned that a statewide ban will create a new black market.
“I feel like there is going to be more of a black market, but overall, I think more rules are a step in the right direction,” said Cal Poly student Zachary Rahimian.
The No on 31 campaign says California has some of the toughest anti-tobacco laws in the country and spends over $140 million a year to help people quit.
The campaign says youth smoking is at an all-time low of just 1.9 percent.
Prop. 31 would not apply to hookah, cigars, or loose-leaf tobacco.
A state analysis found that Prop. 31 would reduce state tax revenue by up to $100 million each year.