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Understanding the proposed ban on flavored tobacco on Guam

 By Pacific Island Times News Staff

Guam is considering a potential ban on flavored tobacco products. Initially authored by Sen. Thomas Fisher, Bill 229-37 reentered the forum after some changes from the American Cancer Society. In its current form, the bill targets all tobacco products with flavoring, including menthol cigarettes and e-cigarettes. It also covers any product authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 


The increase in smokers in Guam, with one in four adults being a smoker, is bolstering the bill forward with the support of health professionals and relevant firms. After a public hearing that lasted five hours, the decision continues to be at a standstill as the bill draws opposition.

Detractors were primarily concerned about the potential ban’s impact on the economy and the possible surge in illegal smoking goods should the bill pass. While this may effectively quell the general rate of smokers, it also impacts the power of choice for adults who consume these goods. 


Bill 229-37 is one of many legislative efforts to address the fact that Guam has the highest percentage of e-cigarette users who start the habit young across the globe. Plenty of e-liquids are widely available online, with popular brands like Candy King, Pop Cloud, and Cloud Nurdz offering a massive selection of flavors appealing to different users. This makes it much more welcoming to new smokers and makes it harder to curb addiction. 


It’s also worth noting that this accessibility doesn’t necessarily link back to vape brands themselves. While they manufacture these products, the onus to verify the consumer's background falls on the retailer. In a recent review of tobacco retailers, the Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center found that more establishments have gotten lax in checking IDs. With lawmakers taking action, retailers must become more stringent and adapt to new measures. 

If the bill is enacted into law, all relevant establishments must comply with a ban prohibiting the possession, sale, and distribution of flavored tobacco products. Violators would face a fine of $500 for first offense. Any succeeding violations would then be fined $2,000 each time. 


According to Fisher, the bill’s main author, the all-encompassing ban is necessary to stem the tide of citizens becoming dependent on tobacco. The focus on all variants of flavored tobacco is because the added taste makes the product less daunting for those susceptible to becoming dependent on them. 


On the other side of the argument, vape retailers are urging lawmakers to consider a deeper examination of the culture and educational materials to mitigate excessive smoking. They argue that the ban is akin to alcohol prohibition and will only feed into illegal activity as people seek out covert means of getting their products.

Moreover, a ban would only become a new hurdle for adults looking for alternatives to traditional cigarettes. It’s also worth noting that most e-cigarettes do not have tobacco, but lawmakers are still including this market in its crackdown. 

With all the uproar over this bill and its ramifications, it’s worth looking into what products will remain viable if the law is established. Since the focus of the bill is on tobacco, there is a good chance that smokeless, flavored, synthetic nicotine products will be safe for legal purchase.


Tobacco-free alternatives are already becoming more popular, with the global nicotine de-addiction market expected to hit $27.84 billion by the end of 2031. Retailer Prilla is steering this market with trusted brands like ZYN, VELO, On!, and Rogue. Depending on user preference, these brands offer different products, each with varying flavor and strength. 


 While this niche has yet to reach the thousands of flavors already available in the vape industry, it is a promising space that is already developing more profiles beyond its current variety of citrus, coffee, mint, and cinnamon. The likes of ZYN primarily use pouches that contain different nicotine strengths, all without any tobacco. Pouches are placed under the lip and left for the mouth to absorb (for up to an hour).


Other brands also create nicotine tablets, gum, and lozenges. These already have more variation in flavor, with berry, crema, gum fruit, mango, and wintergreen readily available. The brand Lucy has been developing, marketing, and distributing innovative sugar-free chewable products that use principles of green chemistry but produce chemically identical effects to tobacco-derived nicotine. This is chewed like regular gum and then pushed between the gum and cheek once the flavor hits its peak. 


The price range for single cans of nicotine pouches and a multi-pack of gum matches that of disposable vapes, so these are up-and-coming alternatives in both function and price. Of course, there have not been enough legal definitions to completely insulate this market from any consumers outside its target market either. For this, other lawmakers will likely need to make new legislation in the future. 


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