SCOTUS Tosses California’s Case On Flavored Cigarettes

California’s prohibition on flavored cigarettes will stay in effect as the Supreme Court decided not to hear an appeal challenging the restriction.

Reports show cigarette and tobacco firms contended that the federal Tobacco Control Act (TCA) does not provide states the power to prohibit flavored cigarettes. After 62% of Californians approved a prohibition on flavored tobacco goods in a 2022 election, the law entered into effect in December of that year.

The firms argued that there was much leeway for state regulation of tobacco product sales under the TCA. California can implement licensing regimes, limit sales to certain hours and places, and increase the minimum buying age. Companies asked the Supreme Court to review the issue.

The law didn’t match the state’s approved tobacco product requirements.

They went on to say that the preemption provision of TCA explicitly prevents states and municipalities from passing any rule that differs from, or in addition to, federal “tobacco product standards.”

The businesses argued that the case should be heard by the Supreme Court since the prohibition effectively outlawed menthol cigarettes, which had been marketed legally for over a century, and closed off one of the biggest marketplaces for flavored tobacco items in the country.

Democrat Attorney General Rob Bonta said regulating tobacco products rested with the states.

According to reports, the central topic is whether or not the prohibition on flavored tobacco products in California in 2022 was effective.

New statistics show that even after the prohibition, Californians are still lighting up menthol cigarettes, even though legal sales have dropped.

Menthol cigarettes accounted for about 24.5% of the state’s authorized sales until the prohibition in December 2022. Cigarette taxes fell by more than 15% from 2022 to 2023, when sales were already declining.

The Tax Foundation explains that when considering a menthol ban or comparable legislation federally or in states, lawmakers should exercise caution in light of these facts. Black market operators seem to be able to meet the demand that cannot be met via standard market transactions, and the revenue losses caused by these laws are enormous.