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Voter guide to Proposition 31, flavored tobacco ban, on the 2022 California midterm ballot

illustration of an e-cigarette with cotton-candy shaped smoke
(Molly Magnell / For The Times)
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California voters will decide the fate of seven statewide propositions on Nov. 8.

The propositions, like all state ballot measures, require approval by a simple majority of voters for passage. Unless otherwise specified, the approved propositions take effect once the election results are certified in December.

Here’s what you need to know about Proposition 31.

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Proposition 31: Flavored tobacco

If approved, Proposition 31 would ban the sale of most flavored tobacco products in stores and in vending machines. The ban was passed by the California Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2020 in an effort to stop a youth vaping crisis and weaken the industry’s influence in the state. But in 2021 the law was placed on hold after a referendum by the tobacco industry challenging the law qualified for the November 2022 ballot.

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Senate Bill 793 would have prohibited retailers in California from selling flavored tobacco products, popular among teens, with exceptions made for hookah, some cigars and loose-leaf tobacco. The bill passed the Legislature with bipartisan support, despite intense lobbying by the tobacco industry and other interest groups.

Major tobacco companies already have poured in millions of dollars to persuade Californians to vote against Proposition 31 and allow the sale of flavored tobacco products to continue.

A “yes” vote means the law will go into effect, while a “no” vote means it won’t.

Who is running for California governor? What are the propositions on the ballot? Here is your guide to the 2022 midterm election.

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CDC, supporters cite temptation among kids, tobacco companies say adults have rights

While considering the ban, state legislators cited a 2018 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study that found that 67% of high school students and 49% of middle school students who used tobacco products in the prior 30 days reported using a flavored tobacco product during that time.

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Lindsey Freitas-Norman, advocacy director for the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, said passing Proposition 31 is critical to stopping the sale of products she describes as the industry’s way “to hook a new generation.”

“These youth are drawn in by the flavors but hooked by the nicotine,” Freitas-Norman said. “This policy is really about protecting our kids from an industry that sees them as dollar signs and nothing more.”

The “Yes on 31” campaign is supported by Newsom, the California Democratic Party, the California Teachers Assn. and a slew of organizations representing doctors, dentists, nurses and public health professionals.

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Philip Morris USA are supporting the campaign against Proposition 31, and the California Republican Party endorsed a “no” vote against the initiative.

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Beth Miller, a spokesperson for the “no” campaign, called Proposition 31 a “sweeping ban” on products that are already heavily regulated.

“What Proposition 31 would do is take this adult choice of what adults want to choose away from them,” Miller said. “We believe that prohibition doesn’t work.”

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Fundraising

Here’s who has raised the most money for Proposition 31 and where it is coming from ahead of the 2022 California’s election.

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Past coverage

Proposition 31 will give voters the chance to decide if they want to ban flavored tobacco products in California

The tobacco industry is turning in signatures for a referendum on the new law banning the sale of flavored tobacco sales effective Jan. 1.

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Proposition 31 would ban the sale of flavored tobacco products, and Proposition 28 would guarantee more funding for arts in public schools.

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Other propositions on the ballot

Learn more about all seven ballot propositions on the November ballot.

California’s November election will feature seven statewide ballot measures.

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L.A. Times Editorial Board Endorsements

The Times’ editorial page publishes endorsements based on candidate interviews and independent reporting. The editorial board operates independently of the newsroom — reporters covering these races have no say in the endorsements.

The L.A. Times’ editorial board endorsements for statewide ballot measures, elected offices in Los Angeles city and county, L.A. Unified School District board, L.A. county superior court, statewide offices, the state Legislature and U.S. House and Senate seats.

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How and where to vote

Ballots will be in the mail to all 22 million registered voters in the state no later than Oct. 10. Californians can return ballots by mail, drop them at collection boxes or turn them in at voting centers. They can also cast ballots early at voting centers or wait until Nov. 8 to vote at their neighborhood polling places.

Californians can register to vote or check their status at https://registertovote.ca.gov/.

Here’s how to vote in the California midterm election, how to register, what to do if you didn’t get mail ballot or if you made a mistake on your ballot.

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Follow more election coverage

In the November midterm election, California is one of the battlefields as Democrats and Republicans fight over control of Congress.

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