SACRAMENTO – On Monday, September 16, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order 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.
“We must take immediate action to meet the urgency behind this public health crisis and youth epidemic,” said Governor Newsom. “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.”
The Governor also announced that he signed SB 39 by Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), legislation which will impose stricter age verification requirements for tobacco products sold online or by mail.
Vaping devices are the most commonly used tobacco product in California and more than 80 percent of high-school teens who consume tobacco use a vaping device. Of the California teens who consume tobacco products, 86.4 percent 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 percent. In 2018, 10.9 percent of California high school students reported using e-cigarettes and 14.7 percent reported using cannabis.
“As a state, we can no longer stand by as a new generation falls victim to big tobacco, with vaping products that directly target our children,” said California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly. “The Governor’s action will raise awareness of the dangers of tobacco products and the risks associated with e-cigarettes and vaping, as well as look at enforcement actions that show Californians the gravity of targeting young people and their health.”
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 October 29, 2019.
• 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 Department of Public Health shall submit its recommendations to the Governor’s Office by October 14, 2019.
• 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.