CSAC Bulletin Article

Big Tobacco’s Bad Day

May 5, 2016

Big Tobacco had a very bad day yesterday, with Governor Brown signing all but one of a tobacco regulation package into law and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)steeping up to regulate all tobacco products.

Yesterday, Governor Brown signed five out of the six tobacco bills that were passed by the Legislature during the Second Extraordinary Session on Health Care (Special Session) earlier this year. All six bills are outlined in the chart below, and the new laws include raising the tobacco purchasing age from 18 to 21 years old, classifying e-cigarette and vapor, or “vaping,” devices as tobacco products, and stronger tax and licensing strictures.

The Governor vetoed ABX2 10, by Assembly Member Bloom, which would have allowed a county to allow a countywide vote on whether to impose a tax cigarette and tobacco products distributors. In his veto message, Governor Brown stated that he is “reluctant to approve this measure in view of all the taxes being proposed for the 2016 ballot.” The entire veto message can be found at: https://www.gov.ca.gov/docs/ABX2-10_Veto_Message.pdf

CSAC supported the tighter tobacco restrictions, as seen on the chart below, and is pleased that the Governor signed the public health related ones into law. While CSAC did support ABX2 10, which the Governor vetoed, CSAC’s members had concerns about whether counties would exercise the new proposed authority. CSAC was not a sponsor of ABX2 10.

Prior to being sent to the Governor’s desk 13 days ago, the tobacco package had been in a type of legislative purgatory, residing in “enrollment” after passing both houses in an effort to stall threats by the tobacco industry to overturn the proposed measures with a statewide initiative campaign. The tobacco bills are described in the chart below:

Bill Number



CSAC Position


SBX2 5


Adds e-cigarettes and vaping products to the existing definitions of tobacco products.


Signed by Governor

SBX2 7


Increases the age of sale for tobacco products from 18 years of age to 21.


Signed by Governor

ABX2 7


Closes loopholes in smoke-free workplace laws. CSAC sought amendments clarifying that the requirements of the bill would only apply to owner-operated business where there is interaction with the public.

Support if Amended

Signed by Governor

ABX2 9


Closes existing school tobacco regulation loopholes and expands eligibility for Tobacco Use Prevention and Education program funding to charter schools.


Signed by Governor

ABX2 10


Allows a county to impose a tax on the privilege of distributing cigarettes and tobacco products.


Vetoed by Governor

ABX2 11


Establishes an annual Board of Equalization tobacco licensing fee program, similar to how alcohol is licensed.


Signed by Governor

At the federal level, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finalized a rule on May 5, 2016, that extends its authority to all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, cigars, hookah tobacco, pipe tobacco, and other types of tobacco. This change will help the FDA to implement the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009 and improve public health through a variety of methods, including restricting the sale of these products to minors nationwide. 

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