The debate on a proposed measure to phase out the sale of tobacco products in California over the next few decades is set to begin this spring. Under the measure, retailers would be prohibited from selling tobacco products to individuals born on or after January 1, 2007.

According to Assm. Damon Connolly, D-San Rafael, the bill’s author, the aim of the measure is not to infringe on the rights of current tobacco users, but to prevent the creation of a new generation of nicotine addicts.

Assembly Bill 935 proposes a ban on the sale of tobacco products to those born on or after January 1, 2007, which would allow current tobacco users to continue.

Violating the proposed law would result in financial penalties and license suspensions for retailers, but it would not apply to marijuana or hookah sales.

Oussama Mokeddem, the director of State Policy for Public Health Advocates, believes that the ban would create a sustainable solution that does not punish young people for the harms caused by the tobacco industry.

However, Charles Janigian, the president of the California Association of Retail Tobacconists, opposes the bill, stating that it is a waste of time for the Legislature and would result in a loss of significant tax dollars collected through tobacco sales that fund health-related programs.

If successful, lawmakers are prepared to be challenged by the tobacco industry. The bill’s introduction comes just months after voters approved a ballot initiative that banned the sale of most flavored tobacco products. The referendum was launched by the tobacco industry after state lawmakers and the governor first approved the ban in 2020.

Advocates of the proposal pointed out that a comparable statute has been implemented in New Zealand and a local measure in Massachusetts has been upheld by courts.

At the time of this writing, the legislation had not yet been allocated to a committee. Hearings are projected to commence after March 17.