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0:00 - Intro with Joanna Junak
0:37 - Alex Norcia talks to us about California's ban on most flavoured nicotine products
1:23 - Bloomberg funded flavour prohibition campaign
3:09 - Martin Cullip gives his thoughts on the California flavour ban
5:15 - Martin Cullip on the failed re-election of Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller
6:53 - Closing remarks


Joanna: Hello and welcome. I'm Joanna Junak, and this is GFN news on GFN TV. In today's program, we asked Alex Norcia of Filter about California's efforts to ban flavored nicotine products. We will also hear what Martin Cullip, International Fellow at the Taxpayers Protection Alliance Consumer Center thinks about the ban. First, let's hear what Alex has to say.

Alex: Yes, while most of the mainstream attention in the US has been on the Food and Drug Administration and the very few vaping products that is legally authorized for sale, many laws on state and local levels are continuing to impede tobacco harm reduction. So this time around, in our midterm elections, Proposition 31 is on the ballot in California. This will ban the sale of most, if not all, flavored nicotine products, with the exception of hookah and some premium cigars. The proposition also includes oral products like Snus. And according to the Associated Press, as of last night, Prop. 31, as it's called, already passed. But the final, much more official results will take longer. But it's basically, at this point, a lost cause. Lawmakers in California had already technically passed the ban in 2020. But legal challenges and efforts from THR advocates in the tobacco and vapor industries brought it to basically a two year halt, and they left it up for the voters to decide. In many ways, the opposition, meaning that advocates in the industry simply bought themselves some time. And then for anyone familiar with tobacco control in general, the person bankrolling the yes campaign really shouldn't come as that much of a surprise. It's Michael Bloomberg. So by the middle of October, he had spent 15.3 million of the 17.3 million raised by the yes committee worth the opposition again, which is largely the tobacco industry, and some advocates had raised just 2 million. That distinction had been widely viewed as, again, a lost cause, and as in the fact that the yes campaign had far more money than the no campaign. That simply reflected that the no campaign really didn't think it had any legitimate chance of winning. In the end, California will be the fifth state in the country to have some version of a nicotine flavor ban. Still, perhaps the most surprising element is that the legislation appears to preemptively ban all flavored vaping products, meaning that if the FDA were to one day authorize a flavored vaping product through its premarket tobacco product application process, that would still technically be illegal to sell in the state of California. Another thing is that the law also prohibits so called flavored enhancers, which will prevent a person from buying, say, eliquid with no nicotine in it and adding it to flavorless or nicotine rather at home. In other words, there are no workarounds here.

Joanna: And now, let's hear what Martin Cullip thinks about California's ban.

Martin: Well, it's a pretty naive thing to do, really, isn't it? They should have learned from a study in 2021 which found that when San francisco had the same measure, they studied a ban in San Francisco in 2018. They found that it led to an increase in young people smoking. So you'd think they'd look at the evidence and see that this isn't the right way to go about things. I understand they may think that they're deterring youth from vaping, but youth don't generally use vaping products because of the flavors. There are plenty of other reasons. Most often it's because they get them from friends or relatives, so it's not really a thing that drives them and it's likely to lead to more smoking among youth. The Society of Research in Nicotine and Tobacco 15 past presidents last year criticized this approach and said that it may reduce youth interest in ecigarettes, but it could also reduce adults interest in trying vaping to quit smoking, so it could have a perverse effect. It is so sad that they've gone through this, but then when you look at the figures, the funding for the for and against campaigns was incredibly skewed towards those in favor. It was $60 million pumped into the campaign in favor of Proposition 31, which this was, and only 2 million against. And of the 60 million that was in favor of the pose of 58 million of that came from Michael Bloomberg. So it's not really a good example of democracy in action, is it? Youth will experiment with things and they'll experiment with nicotine. And so if you're telling them not to vape, then a fair proportional, they're going to smoke instead. And as we all know, smoking is far more harmful than vaping, so they could have just shot themselves in the foot as far as public health amongst youth in California is concerned.

Joanna: Martin also commented on the reelection vote that was lost by Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller.

Martin: I think it was just a general, you just got caught up in the backlash against Joe Biden. Joe Biden lost a number of seats in the midterms in states all over the country, and I think Tom Miller just got caught up in that. And it's a bit of a shame because he was the longest serving US. Attorney General in the country and it led to Iowa having quite high profile. And of course, he was very pro vaping as a means of smoking cessation. So we've lost a bit of an ally. But at the same time, now he's freed from the office, he may be able to speak out more generally on vaping and could end up hopefully leading some sort of organization to bring some common sense towards tobacco control in America and speak up in favor of vaping on that score. I'm sure he's like say, silent. If you've been in public life since 1994. I'm sure he's not going to just shut up now that he's not been voted back in. It was a Republican, he was a Democrat. The Republican beat him a very close race, but the Republican beat him, and he's a bit unlucky because a lot of the candidates that Trump endorsed were lost their vote. They're talking about this being kind of the end of the Trump line, if you like. But unfortunately, Tom lost to one of these Trump candidates, but it was very tight. He's 78. Maybe he doesn't want to run again. Maybe he's had his time, but it'd be nice to hear him add his voice to our production in the future in some way, if possible.

Joanna: That's all for today. Tune in next time here on Gfntv or on our new podcast. You can also find transcriptions of each episode on the Gfntv website. Thanks for watching. Or listening. See you next time.