Menthol cigarettes, flavored vapor and e-cigarette products, infused cigarillos are now on their way out of California tobacco retail stores as a result of the passage of Senate Bill 793 which was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Aug. 28, 2020. With the passage of the bill, California is now the second U.S. state to have imposed a flavored tobacco ban following Massachusetts.
Senate Bill 793 has monopolized headlines in recent months due to its aim at limiting what types of tobacco products would be allowed to be sold by retailers in California. Originally, the bill took aim at multiple tobacco products but in the final days leading up to the bill’s passage, an exemption was extended to “premium” cigars, loose-leaf tobacco and hookah [read more here]. The bill, introduced by Sen. Jerry Hill, does not make it a crime for individual citizens to possess flavored tobacco products but it makes it illegal for retailers to sell them in the state. Retailers that are found to be in violation of the new law will face fines up to $250. The bill also gives local municipalities to impose even stricter and more costly penalties related to selling flavored tobacco products.
Though premium cigars did gain a last minute exemption, the bill’s definition of what a premium cigar is will still block many premium cigar products from entering the state or will cause a hike in premium cigar prices. In the bill, premium cigars are defined as cigars that are not mass produced by machines, have a wrapper made entirely from whole tobacco leaf and cost at least $12. While premium cigars sold within tobacco retail stores with cigar lounges where the cigars can be consumed on the premises, the bill will still impact those premium cigars that contain any flavor other than those that are natural to the tobacco leaf.