On the heels of alarming new statistics about teen vaping and fears over a new lung disease with connections to vaping, Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order on Sept. 16 to confront the growing youth epidemic and health risks linked to vaping.
The executive order directs the Department of Public Health (CDPH) to launch a $20 million statewide digital and social media public awareness campaign to educate youth, young adults and parents about the health risks of vaping nicotine and cannabis products.
CDPH is also tasked with developing recommendations to reduce smoking among young adults and teens by establishing warning signs with health risks where vaping products are sold and on product advertisements.
Newsom also announced that he signed Senate Bill 39 by Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), legislation which will impose stricter age verification requirements for tobacco products sold online or by mail.
SB 39 increases the provisions of the so-called STAKE (Stop Tobacco to Kids Enforcement) Act. The act “prohibits the sale, distribution, or nonsale distribution of tobacco products, as defined, directly or indirectly to any person under 21 years of age through the United States Postal Service or through any other public or private postal or package delivery service. Existing law requires a person selling or distributing tobacco products directly to a consumer through the United States Postal Service or by another postal or package delivery service to comply with specified age-verification policies and deliver only to the consumer’s verified mailing or billing address, as applicable. Existing law authorizes enforcing agencies to assess civil penalties for violations of the STAKE Act.
“This bill would additionally require sellers, distributors, and nonsale distributors to deliver tobacco products only in conspicuously marked containers, as specified, and to obtain the signature of a person 21 years of age or older before delivering a tobacco product. The bill would allow a person to designate an address for delivery that is different from the person’s mailing or billing address, if the person’s mailing or billing address has been verified in accordance with specified provisions.”
In addition, civil penalties may be assessed against any entity that violates the section, as follows:
First violation: A civil penalty of not less than $1,000 and not more than $2,000.
Second violation: A civil penalty of not less than $2,500 and not more than $3,500.
Third violation within a five-year period: A civil penalty of not less than $4,000 and not more than $5,000.
Fourth violation within a five-year period: A civil penalty of not less than $5,500 and not more than $6,500.
Fifth or subsequent violation within g five-year period: A civil penalty of ten thousand dollars $10,000.
Vaping devices are the most commonly used tobacco product in California and more than 80% of high school teens who consume tobacco use a vaping device. Of the California teens who consume tobacco products, 86.4% report using a flavored tobacco product. There are over 15,500 e-liquid flavors, some of which have proven to cause significant health effects.
From 2016 to 2018, vaping among California high school students rose 27%. In 2018, 10.9% of California high school students reported using e-cigarettes and 14.7% reported using cannabis.
The Governor’s executive order includes:
Increased enforcement of e-cigarettes: The Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) will develop recommendations to remove illegal or counterfeit vaping products from stores and reducing youth vaping consumption through increased enforcement and incorporating nicotine content into the calculation of the existing tax on electronic cigarettes. CDTFA shall consider revenues currently derived from taxation of electronic cigarettes and the revenues that may be collected from a nicotine-based tax, the potential for evasion and the feasibility of instituting a stamping requirement to maximize compliance. CDTFA shall submit its recommendations to the Governor’s office by Oct. 29.
Warning signs at retailers and on advertisements:The CDPH is directed to develop recommendations to reduce the availability of vaping devices to persons under 21 years of age, which includes the establishment of warning signs about the health risks of vaping at retailers where any vaping product is sold and in any vaping advertisements. This includes increased enforcement regarding sales of vaping products and specifically e-liquid flavors, to youth. In addition, the CDPH shall make recommendations regarding the establishment of standards for nicotine content and uniform packaging for purposes of including nicotine content in the calculation of the existing tax on electronic cigarettes. The CDPH shall submit its recommendations to the Governor’s Office by Oct. 14.
Program Funds for Vaping Awareness Campaign: The CDPH is immediately directed to allocate a total of at least $20 million in tobacco and cannabis program funds for a vaping awareness campaign, including digital and social media messaging focused on youth, young adults and parents. This will build upon the award-wining and longest running anti-tobacco program in the nation.
“We must take immediate action to meet the urgency behind this public health crisis and youth epidemic,” said Newsom in a statement. “As a parent, I understand the anxiety caused by the deceptive marketing tactics and flavored options designed to target our kids. With mysterious lung illnesses and deaths on the rise, we have to educate our kids and do everything we can to tackle this crisis. There is a broad and bipartisan coalition of legislators seeking to protect our youth, and we are committed to working with the legislature and stakeholders to build on these executive actions and put forward a strong tobacco reform package in 2020.”
A complete copy of the executive order can be found at https://www.gov.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/9.16.19-EO-N-18-19.pdf.