News, Politics

California Could Become the First State to Ban All Tobacco Sales

June 13, 2023 12:00 pm ET Estimated Read Time: 5 Minutes
California Could Become the First State to Ban All Tobacco Sales

When it comes to legal substances, public enemy number one is tobacco. Every year, products such as cigarettes are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of individuals across the nation. Being the trailblazing state that it is, California is now looking at a bill that would eventually ban the sales of all tobacco products. California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a similar bill in 2020 that banned the sales of the majority of flavored tobacco products in the state.

A Bill to Improve Public Health

Author of the bill, assemblymember Damon Connelly, believes that “this is a logical next step” and that “the goal here is to lead, to actually change the conversation beyond our state’s borders and really try to move the needle forward in the direction that favors public health.”

Connolly understands that marijuana and tobacco are two entirely different substances, noting that this ban would not affect the utilization of medical or recreational cannabis, which are both legal in the state. The bill would not fine or penalize individuals who are found in possession of tobacco products. Instead, retailers that continue to sell to them would face repercussions. The bill will ban the sales of tobacco products to anyone born after Jan. 1, 2007. Connelly hopes this will help ensure that “the next generation of children in California do not become addicted to smoking.”

Not All Smoking Is Equal

Oftentimes, smoking cannabis and smoking cigarettes are thought to be equally harmful. However, this is not the case. While inhalation of anything can be harmful to your lungs, the risks and potential harm of tobacco products are much more prevalent than that of smoking cannabis. Take, for example, a recent review of studies that were published in the United States. The data in this publication was reviewed and collaborated on by researchers from institutions across the nation.

The authors concluded that smoking cannabis doesn’t carry the same potential risks of developing pulmonary issues such as COPD that are prevalent in tobacco smokers. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, was short is a pulmonary condition in which patients experience persistent coughing and shortness of breath. While this condition cannot be cured, there are some treatments to help reduce its impact on patients’ day-to-day lives.

Pushback from a Billion-Dollar Industry

While passing this bill could drastically change the landscape of public health moving forward in California and pave the way for other states to follow suit, it’s not without pushback from obvious industry players in the state. One such individual who was not impressed with this bill is the President of the California Association of Retail Tobacconists, Charles Janigian, who stated, “The ban will impact a lot of jobs, and it will have a repercussion throughout the economy of California.”

Seeing how California received more than 1.5 billion dollars in taxes from tobacco sales in 2021, according to the state Department of Tax and fee regulation, Janigian believes that if this bill were to pass, “at the end of the day, the state is the net loser.”

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Why Every State Should Follow California’s Lead

There are many reasons why lawmakers in California have chosen to introduce this bill, and for many of the same reasons, lawmakers in other states may follow suit. In the United States alone, it is estimated that over 480,000 people die from smoking cigarettes each year. To put that into perspective, that is an average of 1,300 people daily or 1 in every 5 deaths.

Smoking cigarettes is also “the number one risk factor for lung cancer,” according to the American Lung Association. Lung cancer isn’t the only pulmonary or health issue for which smoking cigarettes is responsible. This habit and addiction can also lead to the following and more:

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Heart Disease
  • Stroke
  • Asthma
  • Reproductive Issues in Women
  • Diabetes
  • Gum Disease

Statista estimates that the tobacco products market in the U.S. will be worth roughly $106.4 billion in 2023, with nearly $83 billion of that being from cigarette sales. While this money will line the pockets of those with too much money, the U.S. taxpayers are footing the bill and strain tobacco use puts on our healthcare system. Just check out these stats:

  • “Smoking costs the U.S. at least $289 billion each year, including at least $151 billion in lost productivity and $130 billion in direct healthcare expenditures.” – American Lung Association
  • “More than 50% ($125.7 billion) of smoking-attributable healthcare spending is funded by Medicare or Medicaid. When other federal healthcare programs are included, the total price that the federal government pays increases to 64.5% of all healthcare spending attributable to adult cigarette smoking.” – Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

It’s strange to think that for all these years, tobacco products have been deemed legal and available around every corner at tobacco shops, gas stations, grocery stores, and even in pharmacies, yet cannabis, a natural plant that has so much to offer our health and wellbeing was deemed illegal and dangerous.

How Cannabis Can Help

What makes many question things even more is the fact that compounds in cannabis could actually help people to quit smoking cigarettes. One study from the University College London “found that after a single dose of CBD treatment, heavy daily smokers find smoking-related cues less visually attention-grabbing.”

Nicotine is a very addictive substance found in cigarettes. When trying to quit smoking, many smokers report having withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia, depression, anxiety, and irritability. You may or may not be surprised to learn that compounds within cannabis, including CBD and THC, have been found to aid in relieving all of these ailments and symptoms.

So, will California be the leader in a nationwide defense against this market that has tainted the U.S. healthcare system and society for decades? Only time will tell.

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