CA Assembly Bill 935 - Phased Complete Tobacco Ban

Anyone born after 2006 could never buy tobacco products under new California bill.

smokingAssembly Bill 935, introduced by California Assembly member Damon Connolly (D – 12th District), seeks to ban anyone born after January 1, 2007, from purchasing tobacco products, including premium cigars and pipe tobacco. We believe Connolly’s proposal is not based on scientific evidence, but rather on a political agenda that seeks to restrict the freedom of adult smokers. Clearly it is no longer a hidden agenda of the anti-tobacco groups to support full prohibition of this legal product.

Bans on tobacco products have been introduced and implemented around the world, including in New Zealand where a similar measure was enacted in 2009. These proposals are ineffective, and only serve to create a black market for these products.

Assembly Bill 935 is a scaled-up version of Senate Bill 793 which passed in 2020 and failed a referendum in 2022 which bans the sale of flavored tobacco products in the state of California. Since the enforcement date of December 21, 2022, neither the State of California nor the Department of Health and Human Services (agency responsible for enforcement) has issued a list of banned products to retailers.

This lack of guidance has left distributors, wholesalers, and retailers in the dark as to what can and cannot be sold.  With no official list of banned products, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers have been stuck with vast amounts of inventory pulled from shelves out of an abundance of caution. This has caused additional economic losses for our members on top of the losses in sales.

Assembly Bill 935 would task the same State agency to enforce the proposed total tobacco ban if passed.

Both the proposed Assembly Bill 935 and the passed Senate Bill 793 do not prevent California residents from using tobacco products, just from purchasing them legally in our state. We have already seen retail sales of flavored tobacco products transition to the online marketplace with customers purchasing from out of state retailers. This has resulted in 10 to 50 percent revenue losses for our members.

If AB 935 were to pass it would cause catastrophic losses of business in every city and town in California. Not only would many stores go out of business, but tens of thousands of people would become unemployed.

The State tax revenue would also suffer a huge shortfall. According to the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration, the State brought in 1.5 billion dollars in 2021 from existing tobacco taxes. California’s early childhood development program (Prop 10) and tax funds that go to supporting health care access for low-income Californians covered by the Medi-Cal program (Prop 56) would dry up and go away.

The California Association of Retail Tobacconists is unequivocally against any law that seeks to infringe upon the rights of adult consumers to choose what legal products they wish to buy and consume.  We believe that all Californians should be opposed to Assembly Bill 935 as the loss of jobs and businesses would severely impact local communities everywhere and the loss in State revenue would likely result in the passage of new taxes to cover the deficits.

Charles Janigian

President  - California Association of Retail Tobacconists Inc.

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