Cigarette smokers and vapers beware—a new California law could upend the state’s tobacco industry as we know it, and other states are following suit. Blaming cigarette butts piling up, the law focuses on cigarette and vape waste, rather than focusing on nicotine.
California lawmakers introduced a bill on January 25 that would ban single-use tobacco products with a goal to abate ongoing environmental issues. This affects nearly all types of cigarettes, which have single-use filters, and single-use tobacco vape products. It also targets tobacco products specifically.
Assemblymember Luz Rivas introduced Assembly Bill 1690, or the Stop Tobacco Access to Kids Enforcement Act, along with Assemblymembers Cottie Petrie-Norris and Mark Stone. Principal co-authors including Assemblymembers Bauer-Kahan, Berman, Boerner Horvath, Friedman, Lee, Nazarian, Quirk and Wicks also joined, as well as Senators Allen, Becker, Limón, Newman, Portantino and Wiener.
“This bill would prohibit a person or entity from selling, giving, or furnishing to another person of any age in this state a cigarette utilizing a single-use filter made of any material, an attachable and single-use plastic device meant to facilitate manual manipulation or filtration of a tobacco product, or a single-use electronic cigarette or vaporizer device,” the bill reads.
The bill also applies to rolling papers—but appears to apply specifically for tobacco uses.
“… the Stop Tobacco Access to Kids Enforcement Act, an enforcing agency, as defined, may assess civil penalties against any person, firm, or corporation that sells, gives, or furnishes specified tobacco and cigarette related items, including cigarette papers, to a person who is under 21 years of age, except as specified. The existing civil penalties range from $400 to $600 for a first violation, up to $5,000 to $6,000 for a 5th violation within a 5-year period.”
Fox 40 reports that the nicotine or cannabis is not necessarily the concern; instead, it’s the filters and vape pens piling up that is Assemblymember Luz Rivas’ primary battleground. “I want to be clear. This bill is not banning the sale of tobacco or marijuana in California. That’s not the goal of this bill,” said Assemblymember Luz Rivas (D-San Fernando Valley).
Deliveries of said tobacco products would also be banned. “The bill would prohibit that selling, giving, or furnishing, whether conducted directly or indirectly through an in-person transaction, or by means of any public or private method of shipment or delivery to an address in this state,” it reads.
Local law enforcement will be responsible for implementing the law, and violators could face civil penalties of $500, if passed. “This bill would authorize a city attorney, county counsel, or district attorney to assess a $500 civil fine against each person determined to have violated those prohibitions in a proceeding conducted pursuant to the procedures of the enforcing agency, as specified.”
Bill proponents said that single-use products are creating a host of environmental issues. After all, efforts in the state force public agencies to spend $41 million a year cleaning up cigarette filters, vapes and other single-use products.
“The smokers: They smoke and they toss. They risk a $1,000 fine by flicking a cigarette out of a vehicle, or throwing it on the beach, or out into the environment anywhere and that’s not a deterrent at all,” said Assemblymember Mark Stone (D- Monterey Bay).
Senator Josh Becker, who represents California’s 13th Senate District, announced on Twitter that he’s proud to support Assemblymember Rivas’ bill as a co-author.
A similar proposal is underway in New York state. The “Tobacco Product Waste Reduction Act” introduced in the New York State Legislature by New York State Senator Liz Krueger and Assemblymember Judy Griffin would ban the sales of similar single-use tobacco products.
In the upcoming months, expect more tobacco products to be introduced that work around the single-use model that we’ve all become accustomed to.