Smoking Age Bill Passes California Assembly, State Moves To Raise Smoking Age To 21 Including E-Cigs

The California State Assembly voted Thursday to raise the legal smoking age to 21 and ban electronic cigarettes in places where normal cigarette use isn’t allowed.

The bill, in a different form, has already been passed by the state Senate, so all lawmakers need to do to raise the smoking age is iron out the wrinkles in the two different bills.

The smoking age bill would then move to the governor’s desk for a signature, Assemblyman Jim Wood told Bakersfield Now.

We know what a killer tobacco products are. Let’s do something to stem the tide and save millions of lives in the future.

The move to raise California’s smoking age comes the day after San Francisco voted to raise its legal smoking age to 21.

Advocates of the bill said moving the smoking age to 21 would make it harder for underage teens to get their hands on tobacco because their 18-year-old friends wouldn’t be able to buy it for them.

Adolescent brains are uniquely vulnerable to the effects of nicotine and nicotine addiction 18-year-olds are much more likely to buy tobacco products for their 14-, 15-, 16-year-old friends.

Assemblyman Donald Wagner joined the ranks of lawmakers who opposed the bill on the grounds government shouldn’t restrict individual freedom, reports Bakersfield Now.

I don’t smoke. I don’t encourage my children to, but they’re adults and it’s our job to treat our citizens as adults, not to nanny them.

Members of the military under 21 would still be able to buy cigarettes on base.

The bill also regulates electronic cigarettes the same as normal cigarettes and restricts their use in workplaces, schools, restaurants, bars and other places tobacco is banned. Counties were also given the ability to raise their cigarette tax beyond the $0.87 per pack limit, Assemblyman Wood told the LA Times.

This will save the medical system in the outgoing years millions of dollars. It will save thousands of lives.

Five Democrats and two Republicans, who face touch re-election bids, voted against the smoking age bill. The passage of the tobacco age bill marked a victory for public health advocates who have been fighting for it since last year.

Loading...

Although he didn’t identify companies by name, Assemblyman Wood said the tobacco industry aggressively lobbied lawmakers to halt the bill’s passage. Large tobacco companies Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds spent millions lobbying lawmakers last year in an effort to stop the smoking age bill’s passage.

A spokesman for Altria told the Sacramento Bee in an emailed statement that Congress should give the FDA more time to study the effect of changing the smoking age.

Congress should allow the FDA the opportunity to evaluate the science and share its findings with Congress before it considers legislative proposals.

Hawaii was the first state in the union to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21 joining New York City, San Francisco, and other metropolises across the country.

There’s also a $2-a-pack tax increase planned for the California ballot in November, but smokers will almost definitely see an increase in prices as cities and counties have been given the ability to increase tobacco taxes themselves.

What do you think? Should California raise the smoking age to 21?

(Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images