UPDATE: Newsom Signs Executive Order Cracking Down on Vaping

AP News
September 16, 2019 - 5:01 pm
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - California Gov. Gavin Newsom is directing the state to spend $20 million on a public awareness campaign about the dangers of vaping nicotine and cannabis.

The Democratic governor's Monday executive order aims to address rising health concerns from vaping. Hundreds of people nationwide have come down with serious lung illnesses related to vaping cannabis-based oils, and flavored e-cigarettes are contributing to a rise in youth smoking.

"We must take immediate action to meet the urgency behind this public health crisis and youth epidemic,” Governor Newsom said in a statement. “As a parent, I understand the anxiety caused by the deceptive marketing tactics and flavored options designed to target our kids. With mysterious lung illnesses and deaths on the rise, we have to educate our kids and do everything we can to tackle this crisis. There is a broad and bipartisan coalition of legislators seeking to protect our youth, and we are committed to working with the Legislature and stakeholders to build on these executive actions and put forward a strong tobacco reform package in 2020.”

The Governor also announced that he signed SB 39 by Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) today, legislation which will impose stricter age verification requirements for tobacco products sold online or by mail.

Newsom says he doesn't have the executive authority to ban flavored e-cigarettes. But he wants state lawmakers to send him a bill to do so next year. An effort to ban flavored e-cigarettes failed earlier this year.

His order also directs the state's public health agency to explore if the state can step up warning signs at retailers that sell vaping products. He wants the state tax agency to see if it can increase the taxes on e-cigarettes, which typically have lower taxes than traditional cigarettes.

Hundreds of people nationwide have come down with serious lung illness related to vaping cannabis-based oils. California has seen 63 such cases.

Flavored e-cigarettes are also contributing to a rise in youth smoking.

The Democratic governor's action comes after President Donald Trump announced plans for the federal government to ban many e-cigarette flavors.

In New York, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday announced efforts to outlaw the sale of flavored e-cigarettes. In neighboring New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy has created a task force to come up with recommendations for addressing health issues from vaping.

“As a state, we can no longer stand by as a new generation falls victim to big tobacco, with vaping products that directly target our children,” said California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly. “The Governor’s action will raise awareness of the dangers of tobacco products and the risks associated with e-cigarettes and vaping, as well as look at enforcement actions that show Californians the gravity of targeting young people and their health.”

The Governor’s executive order includes:

Increased enforcement of e-cigarettes: The Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) will develop recommendations to remove illegal or counterfeit vaping products from stores and reducing youth vaping consumption through increased enforcement and incorporating nicotine content into the calculation of the existing tax on electronic cigarettes. CDTFA shall consider revenues currently derived from taxation of electronic cigarettes and the revenues that may be collected from a nicotine-based tax, the potential for evasion and the feasibility of instituting a stamping requirement to maximize compliance. CDTFA shall submit its recommendations to the Governor’s office by October 29, 2019.

Warning signs at retailers and on advertisements: The CDPH is directed to develop recommendations to reduce the availability of vaping devices to persons under 21 years of age, which includes the establishment of warning signs about the health risks of vaping at retailers where any vaping product is sold and in any vaping advertisements. This includes increased enforcement regarding sales of vaping products and specifically e-liquid flavors, to youth. In addition, the CDPH shall make recommendations regarding the establishment of standards for nicotine content and uniform packaging for purposes of including nicotine content in the calculation of the existing tax on electronic cigarettes. The Department of Public Health shall submit its recommendations to the Governor’s Office by October 14, 2019.

Program Funds for Vaping Awareness Campaign: The CDPH is immediately directed to allocate a total of at least $20 million in tobacco and cannabis program funds for a vaping awareness campaign, including digital and social media messaging focused on youth, young adults and parents. This will build upon the award-winning and longest-running anti-tobacco program in the nation.

A copy of today's order can be found here.