SBX2-5 anti-vaping bill stalls in California amid controversy

(Courtesy change.org.)

It’s been nearly a month since the California Assembly passed the highly controversial Bill SBX2-5.  Yet. no legal documents have yet to land on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk, even though the State Senate was expected to approve the bill within a matter of days.  According to The Sacramento Bee, a new threat by Big Tobacco put the kibosh on the entire process, at least for now.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

SBX2-5 is the official name for a pack of proposed laws that would raise the legal smoking age to 21, increase tobacco taxes for related businesses, and other similar anti-tobacco legislation.  Unfortunately, the bill also includes specific wording that categorizes all e-cigs and vaping devices as tobacco products, which immediately caused another kind of uproar in the vaping community. 

As organizations like The Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association (SAFTA) and The Consumer Advocates for Smokefree Alternatives Association (CASAA) began descending upon California in an effort to solicit a Veto of Bill SBX2-5 from the California Governor, Big Tobacco was taking a different approach.

Big Tobacco plays hardball.

With its deep pockets filled with the cash of over a century of tobacco smokers, Big Tobacco issued a nasty threat to California politicians.  Stop SBX2-5, or the industry will initial an ugly referendum campaign against other proposed ballot initiatives, including the extension of Proposition 30, which increases the sales taxes on cigarettes and the income taxes California’s Rich and Famous.

An email from one Big Tobacco Lobbyists makes the threat even more clear:

“When we hit the street with a referendum paying $10 per signature, Prop 30 is dead as well as $2 a pack tax.”   The email goes on to say, “Just letting you know so you can’t say you were not warned.”

By stalling Bill SBX2-5 in the Senate, many political pundits believe that certain members of the California State Congress are attempting to manipulate the legislative process for their own gain. If the bill is stalled, then Big Tobacco won’t initiate the referendum.  It’s like a game of chicken.  Who is going to get out of the way first, Congress or Big Tobacco?



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