How is California's flavored tobacco ban enforced and is it working? Watch I-Team's 3-part series

California banned menthol cigarettes, e-liquids, e-juices, pods, or other vaping/tobacco products that contain flavored liquid.

Stephanie Sierra Image
Saturday, April 1, 2023
CA's flavored tobacco 'black market' alive and well: ATF
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Despite the passage of Prop 31, an ATF director says California's flavored tobacco 'black market' is alive and well due to a loophole.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- An investigation by the ABC7 I-Team found that California's flavored tobacco ban has resulted in confused retailers and teens being offered illegal products.

The statewide ban suspending the sale of most flavored tobacco products and e-cigarettes went into effect in December. It applies to anyone, but there's special attention to keep these highly-addictive products away from youth.

More than three million middle and high school students in America use tobacco, according to new data released from the FDA and CDC. For the ninth year in a row, e-cigarettes have been the most popular tobacco product among middle and high school students, a nationwide survey has found. But, despite a statewide ban prohibiting the sale of these products, the I-Team has found teens are still able to get them.

CA's Prop 31: What to know about measure upholding flavored tobacco product ban

Over the past several weeks, the I-Team visited dozens of retailers across the San Francisco Bay Area to see how the ban is being enforced and if it's working.

The results were surprising.

They include an enforcement loophole that may be putting youth at risk.

Additionally, the I-Team spoke with federal investigators to get a firsthand look at how the lack of enforcement is "fueling" the underground tobacco black market. Why do researchers say the problem is getting worse in Northern California?

Watch ABC7 News I-Team reporter Stephanie Sierra's three-part series below on California's flavored tobacco ban for a look at how it's being enforced, if it's working, and the problems that have arisen.

CA flavored tobacco ban loophole may be putting kids at risk

Video shows Bay Area teen offered flavored tobacco product

Despite ban, CA's flavored tobacco 'black market alive and well' due to loophole

Take a look at more stories and videos by the ABC7 News I-Team.

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