Supporters of a coming ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products in California asked the state attorney general on Tuesday to investigate complaints that people gathering signatures for a referendum to overturn the law have misrepresented the effort.
An attorney for the group Tobacco Free Kids Action Fund filed a complaint with state Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra asking for an investigation of “numerous instances of illegal signature-gathering tactics,” noting that it is a misdemeanor for signature gatherers to intentionally misrepresent a referendum petition.
“In several instances, petition circulators for this referendum have approached voters and asked them to sign this petition under the pretense that signing the petition would support banning flavored tobacco,” attorney Lance Olson wrote. “This is categorically false, as this referendum seeks to overturn the law prohibiting the sale of flavored tobacco products.”
The American Heart Assn. also signed on to the complaint.
The new law, which bans the retail sale of flavored tobacco products including menthol and fruit flavors, as well as those used in electronic cigarettes, was approved by the state Legislature and governor in August and is set to take effect on Jan. 1.
If the referendum by the tobacco industry qualifies with 623,312 valid signatures submitted by Nov. 26, implementation of the law banning the retail sale of flavored tobacco would be delayed until voters act in the November 2022 election.
Beth Miller, a spokeswoman for the tobacco industry’s Source…