Beginning June 9, 2016, California smokers and vapers alike will need to be 21-years old, thanks to Gov. Jerry Brown signing the controversial Bill SBX2-5 into law yesterday. It’s been a tough 24-hours for the American vaping industry, as the FDA also recently released the long-awaited deeming regulations for tobacco products. This double-whammy of anti-vaping legislation is taking the vaping community by storm, but industry insiders caution that the battle over vaping rights has only just begun.
While most retailers of e-cigs and vaping technology agree that a 21-year age limit is rather harsh, the more urgent matter is the specific wording in Bill SBX2-5 that classifies electronic cigarettes as tobacco products. Since e-cigs contain nicotine and not tobacco, organizations like the Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA) and the Smoke-free Alternatives Trade Association (SFATA) have been lobbying Gov. Brown in recent months to veto the bill.
Even though the California State Assembly sent the bill to the Governor’s office in early March, SBX2-5 remained stalled due to public uproar among vaping groups and small business owners. However, Brown signed the bill last night, much sooner than anticipated, but he stopped short when it came to the section regarding a proposed increase in tobacco taxes, licensing fees for tobacco retailers, restrictions of smoking and vaping in the workplace, and other related issues.
(Related Article: SBX2-5 ANTI-VAPING BILL STALLS IN CALIFORNIA AMID CONTROVERSY)
(Related Article: SFATA MEETS WITH GOV. JERRY BROWN, URGES VETO OF CA VAPING REGS)
Had the Brown signed this legislation as well, e-cig retailers would have had to pay these new taxes and licensing fees while simultaneously transferring the additional costs onto the consumer by raising the purchase prices of their products. But just because the Governor didn’t sign this portion of the regulations doesn’t mean that vapers can rest easy.
Now that e-cigs and vaping devices are officially recognized as tobacco products, they must also adhere to the same levels of federal oversight. And taxing the tobacco industry is always popular with the American people. So, if Oklahoma, for example, votes for a $2-per-pack sales tax on Marlboros and Salems, then prices of e-liquids take a hit as well.
California now becomes the second state in the Union to raise the legal smoking age to 21, preceded by Hawaii who made the decision a year ago in April 2015. Meanwhile, some 100 local jurisdictions have passed similar legislation, including San Francisco, Chicago, and New York.
(Related Article: CHICAGO MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL BLASTS VAPERS WITH $23.30 PER BOTTLE E-LIQUID TAX)
(Related Article: CALIFORNIA RAISES THE SMOKING AGE TO 21; CALLS E-CIGS ‘TOBACCO PRODUCTS’)
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