September 3, 2020
Dear California Retailers,
Senate Bill No. 793 has passed and signed into law by Governor Newsom as of August 28, 2020.
Senate Bill No. 793 generally prohibits California tobacco retailers from selling "flavored tobacco products" and "tobacco product flavor enhancers."
Below is our interpretation of this bill. We would highly recommend seeking legal counsel if you have any questions or need clarification on the details of this bill.
- What qualifies as a "flavored tobacco product"? A flavored tobacco product means any tobacco product that contains a constituent that imparts a characterizing flavor.
- What qualifies as a "tobacco product flavor enhancer"? A tobacco product flavor enhancer means a product designed, manufactured, produced, marketed, or sold to produce a characterizing flavor when added to a tobacco product.
- Which items will be banned for sale in California? All flavored tobacco products (except for items on the exemptions list) and tobacco product flavor enhancers will be banned in the state of California, including, but not limited to:
- Flavored Cigarettes (including menthol, mint, etc.)
- Flavored Snus (including menthol, mint, etc.)
- Flavored Machine-Made Cigars (including Swisher Sweets, Backwoods, Black & Mild, etc.)
- Flavored Chewing Tobacco
- Flavored Vape Juice
- Flavored E-Cigarettes
- Flavored Snuff
- Flavored RYO (roll-your-own) Cigarette Tobacco
- Plus all other flavored products that meet the definition of a "tobacco product". (Section 10445: "A product containing, made, or derived from tobacco or nicotine that is intended for human consumption, whether smoked, heated, chewed, absorbed, dissolved, inhaled, snorted, sniffed, or ingested by any other means, including, but not limited to, cigarettes, cigars, little cigars, chewing tobacco, pipe tobacco, or snuff.")
- Do any flavor exemptions apply? Yes, the new law does not apply to the following flavored tobacco products:
- "Flavored Premium Cigars" (defined as any cigar that is handmade, that is not mass produced by use of mechanization, that has a wrapper that is made entirely from whole tobacco leaf, that has a wholesale price of no less than $12, that does not have a filter, tip, or non tobacco mouthpiece, and that is capped by hand);
- "Flavored Loose Leaf Tobacco" (defined as, consists of cut or shredded pipe tobacco, usually sold in pouches, excluding any tobacco product which, because of its appearance, type, packaging, or labeling, is suitable for use and likely to be offered to, or purchased by, consumers as tobacco for making cigarettes, including roll-your-own cigarettes); and
- "Flavored Shisha Tobacco Products" (defined to include products intended for smoking in a hookah including those with constituents that imparts a distinguishable taste or aroma other than that of tobacco), provided the hookah retailer, among other things, does not permit entry to anyone under 21.
- Can I still sell flavored premium cigars in my retail store? Yes, as long as it meets the definition of a "premium cigar" and has a minimum wholesale price of $12.
- Do non-flavored premium cigars need to meet the $12 wholesale minimum? No, the definition of "premium cigars" only applies to flavored tobacco products for the purpose of this bill. You may continue to sell non-flavored premium cigars as usual.
- I have a cigar lounge which allows smoking on-site, can a customer purchase a flavored premium cigar and consume the cigar on premises? Yes, as long as the cigar meets the definition of a premium cigar and has a minimum wholesale price of $12.
- Can I still sell flavored pipe tobacco in my retail store? Yes, as long as it meets the definition of "loose leaf tobacco".
- How does the new law penalize violations? The California tobacco retailer will be fined $250 for each violation.
- When does this new law take effect? Currently, the new law is scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2021.
- California Association of Retail Tobacconists, Inc.