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New chemical warning regulations for consumer products in California are drawing criticism from promotional product companies that assert they present onerous challenges and make companies vulnerable to lawsuits.

While the new rules don’t take effect until August 30, 2018, promotional product companies are already grappling with them as they create catalogs for next year and prepare for the coming changes, which some industry pros panned as potentially detrimental to sales and ineffective at achieving their aim of educating and protecting consumers.

In a potentially befuddling twist, the new warnings are not mandatory and are intended for businesses with 10 or more employees. However, California officials say that using the so-called “safe harbor warnings” is an effective way for businesses to protect themselves against Prop 65 enforcement actions. And, businesses hope, potential lawsuits. “You can apply a (warning) label, or not label and play a game of legal roulette,” said Emily Grier, global compliance and import manager at Los Angeles-based distributor Jack Nadel International (asi/279600).