Smoking Now Illegal For Those Under 21 In California — Which States Will Be Next?

Smoking was front and center in a bundle of bills that Governor Jerry Brown signed yesterday in California. Among the new bills that the governor signed was one that will raise the smoking in age in California from 18 to 21. Additionally, the smoking bills signed by Governor Brown will limit the use of electronic, or e-cigarettes, and expand the reach of non-smoking areas near public schools.

On the flip side, Governor Brown vetoed a bill asking to allow individual counties in California to hold referendums to use local tobacco taxes to pay for healthcare bills that involve tobacco-related illnesses.

Smoking laws signed by California Governor
[Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images]
All of the smoking bills sent to Governor Brown’s office for approval were put together by a coalition of medical groups that included the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, and the California Medical Association. The package has been called the “most expansive” smoking legislation to pass through the state since smoking was banned in all public buildings.

So, is everyone happy with the new smoking laws passed by Governor Brown? No. Two major groups have already made their displeasure with the California legislature well-known. The Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association, for one, balked at the new smoking laws. The Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association represents makers of e-cigarettes and released a statement regarding the new smoking laws.

“California took a step backwards today by reclassifying vapor products as tobacco. Stigmatizing vapor products, which contain no tobacco, and treating them the same as combustible tobacco while actively seeking to economically penalize smokers attempting to switch is counterproductive to public health.”

The e-cigarette debate has grown in accordance with the popularity of vaping over the last several years, with health officials claiming that they are not safe and the e-cigarette industry claiming that they are a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes.

As expected, the tobacco industry is not happy about the new smoking laws signed by Governor Brown in California, either. When the bills were being considered, the industry threatened to hold a statewide referendum vote to not only stop the smoking age from being raised but to lift the new restrictions on e-cigarettes. As a result of that threat, the state legislature employed language in the smoking bills that would make them more difficult to qualify for a public referendum.

Governor Jerry Brown signs new smoking legislation
[Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images]
California’s new smoking laws will become effective on June 9th, 2016. In the process, California will become the second state in the United States to raise the smoking age to 21 — the first being Hawaii. According to the National Survey of Drug Use and Health, nine out of ten smokers smoke their first cigarette before the age of 21, and eight out of ten smoke their first butt before the age of 18. As a result of the raised smoking age, the Institute of Medicine released a study last year indicating that increasing the smoking age would result in 200,000 fewer smoking related premature deaths for persons born between 2000 and 2019.

The smoking ban will reportedly not affect those in the military, bypassing objections that it was unfair that the government would utilize those 18 and older for warfare, but wouldn’t allow them to smoke. Individuals who are 18 and active in the military will be exempt from the new smoking laws.

What do you think? Is this smoking restriction a good thing? Is the raised smoking age something that should be enacted nation-wide?

[Photo by Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images]

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