What do Boats, Bacon and Coffee Have in Common?

Ann Kinner
NFIB California Leadership Council Member; Owner, Seabreeze Nautical Books and Charts in San Diego, CA.

How about cars, coffee and aloe vera?

All of these and hundreds of other things are subject to California’s requirement to post a “Prop 65” warning sign! Most recently, Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) introduced SCR 100 to urge the addition of various processed meat—including bacon—to the Prop 65 list of chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects. Seriously.

When Prop 65 was enacted in 1986, there were about a dozen substances on the list which required consumers to be warned “that they are being exposed to chemicals that are known to cause cancer and/or reproductive toxicity.” In the 32 years since it was adopted, the list of “known” hazardous substances has grown to nearly 900, and the primary beneficiaries appear to be the lawyers and their clients who have filed lawsuits against numerous business, large and small, for apparent noncompliance.

Efforts to curb these legal actions have pretty much gone nowhere. Although, let’s applaud federal judge William Shubb for issuing a preliminary injunction a couple of weeks ago blocking warnings on glyphosate in California, an item frequently used in farm products, which the Environmental Protection Agency has deemed safe. More on that decision can be found in the Wall Street Journal here.

Generally, the list of warnings for products grows longer, and the signage requirements are about to become even more complicated. New requirements include specific wording, multi-language presentation, a triangular yellow warning symbol, and even the Internet address of the “new Proposition 65 warnings website.” From the official Prop 65 website, “Penalties for violating Proposition 65 by failing to provide warnings can be as high as $2,500 per violation per day.”

What I want to know is what consumer is really going to stop buying a car because there is a Prop 65 warning notice on the driver’s side window? Who is going to stop drinking coffee because someone thinks some chemical component is hazardous? What do all those mandatory signs add to the cost of doing business, and ultimately to the cost to the consumer? And to take it to its illogical conclusion, why isn’t there a Prop 65 warning for sunlight? We hear frequently that sunlight can lead to skin cancer.

I’ve begun to see Prop 65 warnings on things that I sell that are produced in other states, and I know there are products I’d like to have available for my customers, but the producers will not sell them to me because of the Prop 65 requirements. We’ve gone beyond absurd to lunacy!

When I saw recently that new boats will need to include Prop 65 warnings either in their owners’ manuals or on a tag “attached to the boat’s helm printed in type no smaller than 12-point” (The Log Newspaper, February 22, 2018 edition), I decided that Sacramento has finally gone completely nuts. And that was just after I learned about coffee, and also about bacon.

It’s time for some real reform of this overreaching list. It’s time for someone to reign in some of the so-called public agencies that have the ability to make decisions on what might or might not be good for me.  And it’s time to stop adding to the challenges of running a business – large or small – in what used to be known as the “Golden State.”

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