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Supreme Court won’t block California’s flavored tobacco ban

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Monday denied a request by tobacco companies to block California from enforcing a ban on flavored tobacco products that was overwhelmingly approved by voters in November.

RJ Reynolds and other tobacco companies have sought High Court intervention to prevent the ban from coming into force by December 21.

There were no additional comments from the judges and no dissents noted.

The ban was first passed by the state legislature two years ago, but never went into effect after tobacco companies garnered enough signatures to put it on the ballot. of voting. But nearly two-thirds of voters approved of banning the sale of everything from cotton candy vape juice to menthol cigarettes.

Supporters of the ban say the law was needed to halt a skyrocketing rise in teenage smoking.

RJ Reynolds filed a federal lawsuit filed the day after the Nov. 8 vote, but lower courts declined to hold the law on hold while the lawsuit continues.

Menthol cigarettes make up about a third of the market in California, companies have said as they urge the Supreme Court to stop them losing so much business in the nation’s largest state.

They argued that the power to ban flavored products rests with the federal Food and Drug Administration.

California responded that federal law comfortably allows state and local governments to decide which tobacco products should be sold in their jurisdictions. And the state noted that the companies only went to the Supreme Court after spending “tens of millions of dollars” on a losing case at the polls.

California will be the second state in the nation, after Massachusetts, to enact a ban banning the sale of all flavored tobacco products. A number of California cities, including Los Angeles and San Diego, have already enacted their own bans, and several states have banned flavored vaping products. So far, no legal challenges to those bans have prevailed, but the companies have a pending appeal to the High Court in their fight with Los Angeles.

It is already illegal for retailers to sell tobacco to anyone under the age of 21. But proponents of the ban said flavored cigarettes and vape cartridges were still too easy for teens to get. The ban doesn’t make it a crime to possess such products, but retailers selling them could be fined up to $250.

Along with menthol and other flavored cigarettes, the ban also prohibits the sale of flavored tobacco for vapers, tank systems, and chewing tobacco, except for hookahs, certain cigars, and loose-leaf tobacco.

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