(CN) – California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced an executive order Monday targeting illegal sales of flavored e-cigarettes and funding ads alerting youth to the links between vaping products and respiratory infections.
Newsom told reporters in Sacramento that e-cigarette companies are “insidious” for targeting youth with tobacco flavors such as cotton candy, cheesecake and root beer.
“As a father of four, this has been an issue that has been brought to the forefront of my consciousness,” he said. “There is nothing fun or cute about this. People are losing their lives or getting permanent respiratory health issues.”
Under the order, California will require e-cigarette companies to disclose some sales information and will step up enforcement against stores selling counterfeit vaping products.
California will also spend $20 million on health education campaigns alerting the public to the risks associated with chemicals in nicotine and cannabis vaping products, according to the executive order.
Newsom said his administration will work to develop health warning signs to be posted outside vaping shops and explore taxing e-cigarette products at the same level as traditional cigarettes.
“To extent that ads can work and taxes can be a deterrent, I believe both should be on the table,” Newsom said, adding he hopes the higher cost will deter teens from buying vaping devices.
Vaping devices have become popular among California teens who use tobacco, with more than 86% reporting that they’ve used flavored tobacco products, according to state health officials.
Newsom’s announcement comes days after President Donald Trump said his administration will move to ban most flavored e-cigarettes from the market amid growing concern about health risks tied to vaping.
Federal officials are investigating hundreds of cases of severe respiratory illnesses and at least six deaths with potential links to e-cigarettes.
In California, at least one death has been linked to use of cannabis-based e-cigarettes. More than 60 people have reported breathing problems after vaping.
While New York and Michigan officials have moved to ban e-cigarette products, Newsom told reports Monday he lacks the authority to issue such a ban in the Golden State.
Newsom said he wants state lawmakers to send him a bill banning flavored e-cigarettes.
“I’d like to see that bill on my desk,” Newsom said.