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California: Laws and regulations summary

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Past LawsPending LawsCurrent LawsOur view

Past laws

SB400 (Dead)

  • First attempt to ban electronic cigarettes
  • Sponsored by Sen. Corbett
  • “Authorize action to halt the sale, distribution, or offering for sale of electronic cigarettes that have not been approved or cleared by the federal food and drug administration
  • Killed by Gov. Schwarzenegger in 2009

SB648 (Inactive-Died)

  • Ban the use of E-Cigarettes in virtually all workplaces punishable by fine
  • Sponsored by Sen. Corbett
  • Defined E-cigarettes as tobacco products
  • Ban use within 20 feet or inside any public building or in a vehicle owned by the state
  • Declares use of Electronic cigarettes “May be a hazard to the health of the general public.”
  • Was amended in final months to not define e-cigarettes as tobacco products

2016 Tax initiative (Failed to reach ballot)

  • Tax hike on cigarettes and electronic cigarettes

AB 1500 (Dead)

  • Total ban on online sales within California

Pending laws

SB 140 (Dead in committee)

  • Defines e-cigs as tobacco products
  • Sponsored by Senator Leno
  • Bans vaping where smoking is banned
  • Author abandoned after amended to not declare e-cigarettes as tobacco products but could potentially be revived

SBX2-5 (Awaiting Governor’s Signature)

  • Defines e-cigs as tobacco products

No pending laws at this time (2/22/16).

Current laws

Currently the state of California defines e-cigarette devices and prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes to anyone under 18. There is also a patchwork of localities and counties that restrict vaping in all enclosed workplaces, including bars and restaurants.

Our view

California legislators are no strangers to making attempts to remove Electronic cigarettes from the market entirely. In 2009 The California legislature sent to the desk of then Governor Schwarzenegger SB400, which he refused to sign. He stated “Items defined as “tobacco products” are legal for anyone over the age of 18. If adults want to purchase and consume these products with an understanding of the associated health risks, they should be able to do so unless and until federal law changes the legal status of these tobacco products. For this reason, I am unable to sign this bill.”

The state has made several attempts to either ban, heavily tax, redefine or restrict access to vapor products, which would limit the accessibility and diversity of these products. California has disregarded the notion of harm reduction, and instead wishes to categorize electronic cigarettes alongside traditional tobacco products, despite a study from PHE that suggests vaping may be 95% safer than conventional cigarettes. While many restrictions on vaping have failed on the state level several localities and counties have implemented indoor bans that classify vapor products in the same category as tobacco products. Ultimately California’s E-cigarette climate is unfriendly, and we will likely see more legislation introduced this year that attempts to redefine or restrict e-cigarette usage.