A coalition representing the tobacco industry said Tuesday it has turned in more than 1 million signatures as it seeks to qualify a referendum for the November 2022 ballot aimed at overturning a law banning the retail sale of flavored tobacco products in California.
If the Secretary of State’s office determines there is a sufficient number of signatures to qualify the referendum, the new law, which was scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, would be suspended until the voters act on the ballot measure in November 2022.
The signatures were submitted to the state by the California Coalition for Fairness, which said in a statement Tuesday that its signature drive showed that voters are put off by the new law.
“In the midst of an unprecedented pandemic, raging wildfires, heatwaves and power outages across the state, more than one million Californians signed petitions for the right to have their voice heard on an unfair law that benefits the wealthy and special interests while costing jobs and cutting funding for education and healthcare,” the statement said.
The coalition has received more than $21 million so far, largely from companies including Philip Morris USA and its affiliated U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co., as well as R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.
Opponents needed to collect the signatures of 623,312 registered voters to quality the referendum.
The referendum was criticized Tuesday by Lindsey Freitas, advocacy director for Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a leading supporter