* FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE *
California Legislature is Kicking Small Business While We Are Down
SB 793 Will Cost State $1.8 billion in Tax Revenue, Devastate Small Retailers, Fuel Police Action Towards Minority Groups
Sacramento, CA - Today, the California Fuels & Convenience Alliance (CFCA), American Petroleum and Convenience Association (APCA), and Neighborhood Market Association who represent the 20,000+ convenience stores statewide call upon Governor Newsom, Assembly Speaker Rendon, and the state legislature to table SB 793, the proposed ban on flavored tobacco including menthol cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and other products. At a time when Californians and our economy are reeling from the devastation of COVID-19, we cannot afford short-sighted policy.
Just as a glimmer of light shown at the end of the tunnel, small businesses, hoping to resume operations after shutdown, must close their doors, again. Furloughed employees hoping to return to work are hanging in limbo and service employees are left to rely on government stimulus to stay afloat. The state budget faces a cataclysmic $54 billion shortfall, more than double the deficit faced during the 2008 recession, threatening critical public services.
Yet despite these circumstances, the legislature is still advancing an ill-conceived policy that will cost the state nearly $2 billion in tax revenue over the next four years while slashing revenues at convenience stores, gas stations, and other essential small businesses that have continued to serve their communities during this turbulent time. Simply put, our state cannot afford to lose billions more, while teachers and first responders face pay cuts and furloughs.
Banning menthol cigarettes, used legally by adults but not preferred by the youth, will not generate any meaningful health outcomes, but will be a disaster for our communities. With supply unavailable for otherwise law-abiding purchasers, a black market for these products will inevitably emerge, as it has for every other ‘illegal’ product throughout history. Placing cigarettes and flavored products in the same category as narcotics does nothing but criminalize legitimate purchasers. At a time when police actions and their interactions with communities have been called into question, it would be irresponsible for the legislature to directly create more opportunities for negative exchanges between police and minority groups. Fighting for criminal justice reform while simultaneously criminalizing legal behavior is nothing short of hypocrisy.
Now is not the time for California to pass misguided policy that will do more harm than good. We can all unite behind the goal of ending youth access to these products. Our retailers continue to protect youth from traditional tobacco products such as menthol, mint, and wintergreen. We need to ensure we are empowering our responsible retailers with effective enforcement tools while also ensuring youth do not have access to flavored vapor products which are strictly made for adult usage.
Stop SB 793’s menthol ban that will hurt small businesses, eliminate necessary tax revenue, and perpetuate dangerous and avoidable police interactions in our communities.
Media Contact: James Allison, Public Affairs, (916) 646-5999, firstname.lastname@example.org