Senator Jerry Hill Withdraws Bill to Ban Flavored Tobacco Products Rather Than Accept Amendments That Erode Protections for Youth

May 23, 2019

For Immediate Release — Office of State Senator Jerry Hill — Thursday, May 23, 2019
 

Senator Jerry Hill Withdraws Bill to Ban Flavored Tobacco Products Rather Than Accept Amendments That Erode Protections for Youth

SACRAMENTO — State Senator Jerry Hill today withdrew his bill to combat the epidemic use of flavored tobacco products by youth, following hostile amendments that carved out exceptions for tobacco used in hookahs and for tobacco products patented before 2000.

“I introduced Senate Bill 38 to protect young people from the dangerous health risks of tobacco products in any form and to prevent another generation from becoming addicted to nicotine,” said Senator Hill, D-San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. “The aim was to prohibit tobacco products with fruit, candy and other flavors that entice young people from being sold in stores. The amendments imposed on the bill erode those protections by creating unnecessary, harmful exemptions.”

The chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee announced the amendments to SB 38 last week before passing the bill on to the Senate Floor.

Deploring the “hostile amendments” to SB 38, the American Lung Association in California, the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network withdrew their sponsorship and support of SB 38. In a letter, they declared they now oppose the bill.

“Exempting hookah products set a terrible precedent and undermine the foundation of the original legislation to protect youth, low income and minority communities from flavored tobacco,” the organizations wrote in a letter to Senator Hill.

In its amended form, SB 38 was eligible for a vote by the full Senate. Instead, Senator Hill moved SB 38 to the Senate inactive file today. Such a move can buy a bill time, however, in this case, Hill said, “I will not take up this legislation again unless we will be fully protecting young people, as well as communities of color and low-income communities who are targeted by the makers of flavored tobacco products.”

Senator Steve Glazer, D-Contra Costa, a co-author of SB 38, said he remains determined to get flavored vaping products out of the hands of young people.

“The allure of vaping with candy-flavored nicotine liquid has been one of the industry’s ways of hooking a new generation of young smokers, so this is not a battle that we intend to yield on,” said Senator Glazer. “I will continue to fight to protect our young people from the devastating lifelong health impacts of nicotine addiction.”

A special interest group had sought changes to the bill arguing that it raised concerns among communities for whom the use of flavored hookah tobacco is a cultural tradition and among proprietors of hookah lounges.

“I find it hard to believe that use of gummy bear and bubble gum-flavored tobacco in any form is a cultural tradition,” Senator Hill said.

“Until legislators stand up to a powerful industry lobby and others who seek to sell flavored tobacco products, we’ll have to rely on our cities to ban these sales,” he said. “I am heartened by the strong stance taken by many local governments to halt the sales that fuel nicotine addiction by our youth and jeopardize the health of our communities.”

“California should protect kids from big tobacco ploys to get them hooked. In the meantime, I applaud the efforts taken by my hometown, Sacramento, in banning the sale of flavored tobacco products and encourage other cities to move in this direction. Our goal is and will continue to be protecting our youth,” said bill co-author Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento. “These efforts will prevent a new generation from becoming addicted to tobacco and I remain committed to making this a statewide reality.”

Senator Hill’s SB 39 to tighten age-verification measures in online sales, packaging and delivery of tobacco products passed the Senate earlier this month and awaits a hearing in the Assembly.

###

Media Contacts and Further Resources:

For Senator Hill: Leslie Guevarra, 415-298-3404 cell, leslie.guevarra@sen.ca.gov

For Senator Glazer: Steven Harmon, 916-651-4007 office, 916-539-5005 cell, steven.harmon@sen.ca.gov

For Assemblymember McCarty: Maria Alvarez, 916-319-2007 office, maria.alvarez@asm.ca.gov

Letter from health organizations:
https://sd13.senate.ca.gov/sites/sd13.senate.ca.gov/files/aha_ala_acs_sb_38_opposition.pdf

Letter from Hookah Chamber of Commerce:
https://sd13.senate.ca.gov/sites/sd13.senate.ca.gov/files/hookah_chamber_of_commerce_sb_38_opposition.pdf

Hookah fact sheet compiled by Office of Senator Jerry Hill:
https://sd13.senate.ca.gov/sites/sd13.senate.ca.gov/files/hookah_fact_sheet_final.pdf

SB 38 fact sheet, what the bill would have done without amendments:
https://sd13.senate.ca.gov/sites/sd13.senate.ca.gov/files/sb_38_hill_fact_sheet_updated_5-1-2018.pdf