Ending the commercial sale of combustible tobacco products is not the same as prohibition. It is analogous to the way jurisdictions are looking at cannabis “legalization” or “de- criminalization”. Like in jurisdictions that have decriminalized cannabis, no one will be arrested for carrying or using cigarettes (within legally prescribed limits) and police officers will not search individuals, cars, or homes on the suspicion of cigarette possession. The public would be free to grow their own tobacco, give it as gifts, and even bring it in from other places.
In jurisdictions that have or are considering “legalizing” cannabis, no one is in favor of selling cannabis as a typical consumer good or making it available in convenience stores, gas stations, and the typical retail environment. Ending the commercial sales of cigarettes is not meant to make tobacco illegal, it is merely a rational response to the damage caused by the current extensive availability of cigarettes.
The State of California ended the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol (through SB 793). Tobacco-Free California explains on their website:
But there’s more to the law than the elimination of flavored products from stores. It also puts the burden of the law on sellers, not buyers. In other words, no person using or possessing flavored tobacco can be penalized. That might seem like legal mumbo jumbo, but in terms of racial justice, it’s huge. Enforcement of the law is between officers and tobacco retailers, leaving private citizens out of the equation, thereby avoiding potential for over-policing that has disproportionately affected the Black community. Hopefully, this law signals further social justice policies to come.