Who Should We Blame for Banning the Sale of Flavored E-Cigarette Cartridges in California?

By Dave S. Posted February 22, 2013

Jeanne Finberg
California Deputy Attorney General Jeanne Finberg

California Deputy Attorney General Jeanne Finberg has taken it upon herself to impose a non-existent ban on the sale of flavored cartridges, igniting the anger of the e-cigarette community with a move that flies in the face of logic and reason. According to Ms. Finberg, the flavors available in e-cigarette cartridges attract minors to e-cigarettes. Not only is this unsupported by state or federal law, it’s also a completely redundant move because the sale of e-cigarettes to minors has been specifically outlawed in the state since 2010. Regardless, she pursues any company who supplies flavored e-liquids or cartridges with threatening letters and orders to cease selling anything other than tobacco and menthol flavors in the state.

 

How Did it all Start?

 

California Governor Jerry Brown started the entire façade during his stint as Attorney General, when the state sued the company Smoking Everywhere for the same reason. It was argued that flavors such as chocolate and strawberry could appeal to youths, and in the resulting settlement Smoking Everywhere agreed to remove all “appealing” flavors, as well as agreeing to not market to youths and several other concessions.

 

What Does the Law Say?

 

The California Health and Safety Code Section 119405 contains legislation relating to e-cigarettes, and Ms. Finberg spuriously cites the regulations as the reason for her actions. However, it actually simply states that nobody is allowed to “sell or otherwise furnish” (give) an electronic cigarette to anybody younger than 18 years of age. The “(b)” clause defines “electronic cigarette,” the “(c)” clause outlines penalties for violation and the “(d)” clause states that if any locality has more stringent regulations in place, section 119405 doesn’t render it invalid. The section is very straight-forward, and at no point does it as much as mention flavors. The final clause allows for other laws to be brought into effect, but no such laws have been instituted.

 

So, What is She Doing?

 

Assumedly using the Smoking Everywhere case as a legal “precedent,” Jeanne Finberg and her team is sending letters to suppliers of liquid and pursuing manufacturers in the hopes of getting them to stop selling flavored cartridges. Essentially this amounts to legislative bullying; dishing out strongly-worded demands neither supported by the law or common sense in order to pursue an ill-informed agenda.

 

Do Flavors Really Attract Minors?

 

This is really at the heart of the issue, even if the law doesn’t even address it. This criticism has been raised numerous times in the past and the answer is pretty straightforward. Smoking, for whatever reason, is inherently appealing to some minors. Teens have smoked cigarettes illegally long before electronic cigarettes were even invented, so the flavor aspect is clearly irrelevant. Minors do like sweet flavors, but so do adults. If the “appealing” taste was an issue, the state of California would have to similarly outlaw all liqueurs, since the sweet, sugary flavors would also attract minors. Jeanne Finberg must also agree that if crack-cocaine or crystal meth were available in flavors like strawberry and chocolate, the state would be inundated by child-addicts drawn into illicit drugs by the appealing flavor profile. If they want flavor, they can buy some candy a hell of a lot easier than an e-cigarette.

 

There is a final, crushing point that must be addressed. E-cigarettes (as mentioned earlier) are not legally available to anybody under the age of 18. This means in order to buy one, a minor would either have to evade an ID check at a physical store or steal their parents’ credit card to purchase one online. In other words, the existing law is pretty effective, since you get statements with credit cards so you can check for fraudulent purchases and any store attended worth his salt would ask for ID if anyone who looked remotely young tried to purchase something age-restricted. So without any imaginary legislation, the only way a minor could gain access to an electronic cigarette is through the irresponsibility of another adult or if they committed theft and fraud.

 

Despite all of this, Jeanne Finberg still attempts to punish manufacturers and vapers in the state of California through her make-believe laws. The flavors on offer have nothing whatsoever to do with whether e-cigarettes are sold to minors. Even if they were appealing to under 18s (which no evidence has been presented for), they aren’t allowed to have e-cigarettes anyway. It’s the actual law.

 

Trending Searches:

 

  • JenniferS

    Thank you for this post. I am frustrated when I hear a legislator or pharmaceutical lobbyist use the argument that children “might” be attracted to flavored eJuice. It is especially disappointing to see a lawyer use that flawed line. Lawyers need to deal in facts.

    At first glance that argument should have merit. It seems to make sense. But the facts don’t back that up. Kids are not a marketing target, they are not seeking out eCigs, flavored or not.
    Ecigs are more expensive than regular cigarettes, take a lot of fiddling and do not have the attractiveness of being illicit (unless, people like Ms. Finberg continue their extreme attacks).

    I have purchased from many web sites and bricks and mortar shops. In my experience ALL take some kind of precaution or other to avoid selling to minors. ALL eJuice I have purchased have child-proof caps and some kind of warning. Some even go so far as to include poison labels to scare children away. The local shops in my area are owned and operated by former heavy smokers who are in business in large part because of their desire to help other smokers choose a less dangerous alternative. They are hesitant to sell to young looking people, and none allow minors into their shops.

    So who likes flavored nicotine eJuice? Me. I am a 49 year old woman who, after heavy smoking nonmenthol for more than 3 decades successfully switched to eCigs (vaping). At first, most smokers want something that tastes as much like a cigarette as possible. Then we try other flavors, which pulls us further away from liking the taste of a real cigarette.

    Since I’ve stopped smoking tobacco cigs my taste buds have come to life, and they continue to change. I love trying different flavors. The more I enjoy flavored vaping the less I want a regular cigarette. In fact, it has been over 8 months since I’ve even craved a tobacco cigarette. As long as I’m able to vape grape, or sweet tart or coffee flavors I will not light another cigarette. Isn’t that a good thing?

  • sonicdsl

    I would like to echo what JenniferS says above me, and add that I have been smoke-free since August 10, 2011, and haven’t craved combustible cigarettes in well over a year. I don’t care for tobacco flavorings, since the burning leaves of tobacco cannot currently be replicated. Now that it’s been this long, I don’t care to have that “flavor” anyway. I prefer the fruit and dessert liquids now available, as it also helps my sweet tooth (oh, and I’m 44, so not a kid here looking for candy-flavored stuff – such a ridiculous thing to say about flavored e-cigs!).

  • You know, I wonder if anyone over the legal age for smoking, shouldn’t be allowed to eat pepperment ice cream, or candy bars…. perhaps that might encourage youths to do the same. Never mind that smoking is a killer and statistically people with habits over 10 – 40 years have enogh of the diseases, that if it takes a flavored form of nicotine that is enjoyable that in itself alone, is enough to say…… keep smoking and die or quit.. and if for some reason you cannot or will not….don’t enjoy a scientifically proven alternative, on the outside chance, that beginners to smoking, or impressionable youth may mimic this acitivity…. prove your numbers before you concoct preposterous hypothetical futuristic fears about a segment of under-aged, non-smoking, non-addicted individuals, whose lives are not threatened by COPD, Emphysema and worse!

  • tony

    in my state of mn they want to tax the f*** out of e cigs. i have been a smoker for 28 years and have not touched a analog since my first e-vape. it seams like as soon as you find a cure for smoking the goverment want to kill you.i will open a vape shop and i will help many people to a healther alternative. it has been a life changer for me. people in sears sucker suet need to pull there head out of there ass,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

  • JenniferS

    Thank you for this post. I am frustrated when I hear a legislator or pharmaceutical lobbyist use the argument that children “might” be attracted to flavored eJuice. It is especially disappointing to see a lawyer use that flawed line. Lawyers need to deal in facts.

    At first glance that argument should have merit. It seems to make sense. But the facts don’t back that up. Kids are not a marketing target, they are not seeking out eCigs, flavored or not.
    Ecigs are more expensive than regular cigarettes, take a lot of fiddling and do not have the attractiveness of being illicit (unless, people like Ms. Finberg continue their extreme attacks).

    I have purchased from many web sites and bricks and mortar shops. In my experience ALL take some kind of precaution or other to avoid selling to minors. ALL eJuice I have purchased have child-proof caps and some kind of warning. Some even go so far as to include poison labels to scare children away. The local shops in my area are owned and operated by former heavy smokers who are in business in large part because of their desire to help other smokers choose a less dangerous alternative. They are hesitant to sell to young looking people, and none allow minors into their shops.

    So who likes flavored nicotine eJuice? Me. I am a 49 year old woman who, after heavy smoking nonmenthol for more than 3 decades successfully switched to eCigs (vaping). At first, most smokers want something that tastes as much like a cigarette as possible. Then we try other flavors, which pulls us further away from liking the taste of a real cigarette.

    Since I’ve stopped smoking tobacco cigs my taste buds have come to life, and they continue to change. I love trying different flavors. The more I enjoy flavored vaping the less I want a regular cigarette. In fact, it has been over 8 months since I’ve even craved a tobacco cigarette. As long as I’m able to vape grape, or sweet tart or coffee flavors I will not light another cigarette. Isn’t that a good thing?

  • Sonicdsl

    I would like to echo what JenniferS says above me, and add that I have been smoke-free since August 10, 2011, and haven’t craved combustible cigarettes in well over a year. I don’t care for tobacco flavorings, since the burning leaves of tobacco cannot currently be replicated. Now that it’s been this long, I don’t care to have that “flavor” anyway. I prefer the fruit and dessert liquids now available, as it also helps my sweet tooth (oh, and I’m 44, so not a kid here looking for candy-flavored stuff – such a ridiculous thing to say about flavored e-cigs!).

  • Lisa Belle

    You know, I wonder if anyone over the legal age for smoking, shouldn’t be allowed to eat pepperment ice cream, or candy bars…. perhaps that might encourage youths to do the same. Never mind that smoking is a killer and statistically people with habits over 10 – 40 years have enogh of the diseases, that if it takes a flavored form of nicotine that is enjoyable that in itself alone, is enough to say…… keep smoking and die or quit.. and if for some reason you cannot or will not….don’t enjoy a scientifically proven alternative, on the outside chance, that beginners to smoking, or impressionable youth may mimic this acitivity…. prove your numbers before you concoct preposterous hypothetical futuristic fears about a segment of under-aged, non-smoking, non-addicted individuals, whose lives are not threatened by COPD, Emphysema and worse!

  • tony

    in my state of mn they want to tax the f*** out of e cigs. i have been a smoker for 28 years and have not touched a analog since my first e-vape. it seams like as soon as you find a cure for smoking the goverment want to kill you.i will open a vape shop and i will help many people to a healther alternative. it has been a life changer for me. people in sears sucker suet need to pull there head out of there ass

  • May Stack

    I’m amazed at how hypocritical the government agencies are as to ban flavored e cigs using the lie that they care about children when they are ok with flavored alcohol that could make children sick with alcohol poisoning and will more than likely kill them. This proves without a doubt that they don’t care about children.

  • vapor

    She looks like a typical fascist.