Tag: Banning

Big Tobacco goes big in effort to quash law banning sales of flavored tobacco products

A coalition of big tobacco companies and small retailers is paying professional signature gatherers upward of $10 a name in an attempt put the brakes on the statewide law barring brick-and-mortar stores from selling menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products.



Suresh Raina standing in front of a store: Employee Majid Abbas (left) helps a customer buy flavored tobacco at City Smoke and Vape Shop in San Francisco in 2017.


© Gabrielle Lurie / The Chronicle 2017

Employee Majid Abbas (left) helps a customer buy flavored tobacco at City Smoke and Vape Shop in San Francisco in 2017.


With the Nov. 30 deadline approaching for submitting signatures to qualify the measure for the 2022 ballot, the high-dollar effort has become an interesting blend of California politics and potentially huge business profits, with a dash of coronavirus shutdown tossed in for good measure.

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At issue: SB793, authored by state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, and signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom in August. Stores that break the ban on selling flavored tobacco and e-cigarettes would face a $250 fine per violation.

Tobacco interests wasted no time filing the paperwork to put the law before voters in a referendum. They need 623,212 validated signatures to make the ballot.

“The law goes too far and is unfair. Particularly since lawmakers exempted hookah, expensive cigars and flavored pipe tobacco,” said Beth Miller, spokeswoman for the California Coalition for Fairness, the group seeking to repeal the ban.

“It will hurt small businesses and take jobs from licensed retailers who do sell tobacco products,” while still allowing for online sales, Miller said. “If the past is any indication, it will also lead to an underground market that could increase the access for minors.”

Hill dismissed the pro-tobacco arguments as a smokescreen.

“The goal is to keep kids from starting to smoke,” Hill said. “What 15-year-old is going to buy a $12.50 cigar or pipe tobacco? That’s ridiculous.”

Hill said the coalition had another reason for launching the referendum — profit.

If the referendum qualifies, the law, which is slated to go into effect in January, would be suspended until voters have their say in the November 2022 general election. And no matter what the outcome of the vote, the tobacco industry and retailers would get two more years of in-store sales until after the election.

Getting the signatures of the required registered voters by the November deadline, however, is not coming cheap.

The Coalition for Fairness estimates that it will need about 900,000 signatures to ensure it has enough verified signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Like most groups that place initiatives on the ballot, the Coalition for Fairness is using professional signature gatherers, those people you see carrying clipboards with petitions hawking various ballot measures outside of stores, farmers’ markets and other places people gather — or used to gather before the pandemic.

But getting people to stop and sign a petition is not easy these days. And with a pressing deadline, the price per signature has gone from $3 to $4 to as high as $10 per name. Miller said she did not have the exact figure, but

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E-commerce firm Shopee in Thai twitter storm for banning anti-government store

BANGKOK (Reuters) – E-commerce firm Shopee has reversed a ban on a store linked to a dissolved opposition party in Thailand, a spokeswoman said, after online criticism of its perceived pro-government stance.

The building housing the office of e-commerce platform Shopee in Singapore February 16, 2020. REUTERS/Tim Chong/File Photo

#BanShopee became the third highest trending hashtag with over 57,000 uses on Saturday and many Twitter users saying they’ve deleted the app.

“Double standards @ShopeeTH,” wrote Twitter user @chanson_2013. “You need to explain why you banned the stores of those advancing democracy but allow businesses who are pro government to sell on your platform.”

Shopee, a unit of Tencent-backed Sea Ltd, is the latest business in Thailand to be targeted by pro-democracy campaigners for appearing to support the government of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.

The campaign also comes a week ahead of the crucial online shopping event, 10.10.

“Our platform is neutral, and everything is up to company policy,” a Shopee Thailand spokeswoman told Reuters, adding that its policies were applied equally to all sellers.

Companies in Thailand are finding it increasingly difficult to navigate political division. In August, after calls for a boycott, Burger King and others pulled advertisement off the Nation television, which activists branded as pro-government.

Shopee says Democstore had violated its terms several times before the ban for posting “politically sensitive” material.

Democstore is run by the Progressive Movement, a group founded by banned politicians from upstart opposition Future Forward party, which was dissolved in February.

“We were selling urban camping equipment for the protesters and we were banned,” Progressive Movement spokeswoman Pannika Wanich told Reuters.

In September, ten thousand protesters joined an overnight demonstration calling for amendments to the constitution and reform of the monarchy.

DemocStore said it would continue selling t-shirts and mugs with the group’s logo on the chat app, Line.

Anti-government memorabilia are fast becoming hot items online.

Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng and Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by Christina Fincher

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E-Commerce Firm Shopee in Thai Twitter Storm for Banning Anti-Government Store | World News

By Chayut Setboonsarng and Panarat Thepgumpanat

BANGKOK (Reuters) – E-commerce firm Shopee has reversed a ban on a store linked to a dissolved opposition party in Thailand, a spokeswoman said, after online criticism of its perceived pro-government stance.

#BanShopee became the third highest trending hashtag with over 57,000 uses on Saturday and many Twitter users saying they’ve deleted the app.

“Double standards @ShopeeTH,” wrote Twitter user @chanson_2013. “You need to explain why you banned the stores of those advancing democracy but allow businesses who are pro government to sell on your platform.”

Shopee, a unit of Tencent-backed Sea Ltd, is the latest business in Thailand to be targeted by pro-democracy campaigners for appearing to support the government of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.

The campaign also comes a week ahead of the crucial online shopping event, 10.10.

“Our platform is neutral, and everything is up to company policy,” a Shopee Thailand spokeswoman told Reuters, adding that its policies were applied equally to all sellers.

Companies in Thailand are finding it increasingly difficult to navigate political division. In August, after calls for a boycott, Burger King and others pulled advertisement off the Nation television, which activists branded as pro-government.

Shopee says Democstore had violated its terms several times before the ban for posting “politically sensitive” material.

Democstore is run by the Progressive Movement, a group founded by banned politicians from upstart opposition Future Forward party, which was dissolved in February.

“We were selling urban camping equipment for the protesters and we were banned,” Progressive Movement spokeswoman Pannika Wanich told Reuters.

In September, ten thousand protesters joined an overnight demonstration calling for amendments to the constitution and reform of the monarchy.

DemocStore said it would continue selling t-shirts and mugs with the group’s logo on the chat app, Line.

Anti-government memorabilia are fast becoming hot items online.

(Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng and Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by Christina Fincher)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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