California’s controversial ban on flavored tobacco begins today, reports ABC10. A week ago, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company’s contention that the new state law conflicted with federal law.
Flavored tobacco products, such as e-cigarettes, menthol cigarettes, flavored cigars and more, can no longer be sold in stores.
“If they wanted to ban flavored tobacco or regulate it, I feel they should have selected certain stores to be authorized to retail it. It’s saved so many lives, helped so many people get off cigarettes,” said Carlo Sharmoug, owner of Ziggy’s Smoke Shop in Stockton.
Sharmoug says in his 14 years in business, his store has never once sold tobacco to a minor.
Lindsey Freitas, an advocacy director representing California and Hawaii for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, says California’s tobacco rates among teens at one point began to decline until e-cigarettes appeared.
“They started being sold in flavors like grape and cherry and gummy bear. And all of a sudden, we saw our youth tobacco rates increasing again,” said Freitas.
Smoke shops like Ziggy’s say California will lose out on millions in tax revenue and believes product will be sold on the black market. However, Freitas disagrees, saying the savings in medical treatment in California alone will be huge.