As of 2018, 9% of U.S. adults said they “regularly or occasionally” vape according to Gallup. Photo by Chiara Summers.
By Yennifer Ho, Culture Editor
California’s Proposition 31, which bans certain flavored tobacco products including vapes, passed on Nov. 9 with 76% of votes for the ban. It directly impacts in-person stores and vending machines from selling these products.
“The proponents of [Proposition] 31 are very uninformed and misled,” said Cesar Meyer, former owner of Crown Vapors and Smoke Shop in Garden Grove, Calif. “E-cigarettes are a major threat to [the tobacco] revenue so the state of California is doing everything they can to demonetize it and they claim that ‘big tobacco’ is trying to get kids hooked on e-cigarettes. This claim is false, 95% of e-cigarette smokers were tobacco smokers.”
Vaping is believed to be a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes, although the long-term effects are still largely unknown. Compared to smoking tobacco, vaping delivers nicotine to the brain using electronic devices, without the need for using a lighter and dealing with the lingering burnt smell. These devices sometimes called “e-cigarettes” can be recharged or simply disposed of when the battery or e-juice runs out. Vaping has grown popular over the years, especially among teenagers. However, in California, you have to be 21 years old or older to legally vape.
Proposition 31 was not the first attack against vaping. In 2020, the FDA banned JUUL’s flavored nicotine pods throughout the U.S. that many felt were “attracting kids.” The company was ordered to pull most of its flavors, including cucumber, creme, fruit, mint and mango. With the banning of most of their inventory, they are down to selling only two flavors: menthol and Virginia Tobacco.
“Saying that flavors hook kids is also very deceptive,” Meyers added. “Does this imply that adults don’t like flavors? If so, then why do adults buy flavored ice cream, flavored gum, flavored liquor?”
But the FDA didn’t stop there, they ordered all Juul products to pull its e-cigarettes off the U.S. market entirely in June 2022. Recently, it was reported that JUUL had to lay off 400 workers and industry analysts predict that the company will go bankrupt.
“I don’t think [Proposition] 31 does more harm than good necessarily but I do feel like the ban of flavored tobacco products would benefit citizens’ health,” said Elson Liang, a student at the University of California Riverside. “Since a lot of those products contain nicotine as it is, there’s not really that big of a difference between the use of tobacco and vape-flavored products.”
Even with the ban that is set to fully take place this month, Californians are still able to purchase flavored products online.