Despite California’s efforts to curb the sale of flavored vapes with Senate Bill 793, a recent study reported by The Conversation reveals that these products remain accessible online, even to minors. This information, highlighted in a study published in Jama Network Open, casts doubt on the effectiveness of the statewide ban that took effect on December 21, 2022.
California’s Ban on Flavored Tobacco Products
- Senate Bill 793: Enacted to prohibit sales of most flavored tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, regardless of age. Exemptions include hookahs, premium cigars, and loose-leaf tobacco.
Study Findings: Online Purchases by Minors
- Research Approach: Researchers posed as minors to purchase flavored e-cigarettes from 26 websites operating in California.
- Pre-Ban Success: 52% of attempts to buy these products were successful before SB 793.
- Post-Ban Increase: Success rate rose to nearly 61% after the ban was implemented.
Possible Reasons for Continued Availability
- Vendor Awareness: Lack of awareness about the new law or its applicability to online sales.
- Non-Compliance: Deliberate flouting of the ban by online retailers.
Call for Action
- Evaluation of Compliance: John-Patrick Allem, a social and behavioral sciences expert at Rutgers University, recommends a thorough assessment of SB 793 compliance among online brands and vendors in California.
- Objective: To gauge the extent of availability of flavored e-cigarettes online post-ban.
Google Searches for Tobacco Products
- Data Collection: Google search rates for online cigarette and vaping product shopping in California (January 2018 – May 2023).
- Significant Increase: Searches were 194% higher than expected for cigarettes and 162% higher for e-cigarettes, suggesting a search for vendors offering banned products.
The persistence of flavored vape sales online in California post-ban raises concerns about the effectiveness of such legislation. It underscores the need for more stringent enforcement and awareness campaigns to ensure compliance, especially in the digital marketplace.