Bill would raise California smoking age to 21

January 30, 2015

By Alexei Koseffakoseff@sacbee.com

In an effort to keep cigarettes out of the hands of teenagers, state Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-Azusa, announced legislation Thursday that would raise the legal smoking age in California from 18 to 21.
“Tobacco companies know that people are more likely to become addicted to smoking if they start at a young age” Hernandez said in a statement. “We can no longer afford to sit on the sidelines while big tobacco markets to our kids and gets another generation of young people hooked on a product that will ultimately kill them.”
Nine in ten smokers take up the habit by the age of 18, according to the American Lung Association in California, and 36,000 California kids start smoking each year.
Senate Bill 151 would make California the first state in the country to raise the minimum smoking age as high as 21. Similar proposals have previously failed in New Jersey, Utah, Colorado and Maryland, according to Hernandez’s office.
Related
Bill by Sen. Mark Leno would put major restrictions on e-cigs California health officials launch campaign against ‘vaping’ Folsom considers smoking ban in apartments and restaurant patios The bill is the latest front in a renewed anti-smoking push in California. A coalition of the American Heart Association, American Lung Association and American Cancer Society is seeking a $2-per-pack tax increase on cigarettes, either via the Legislature or through an initiative.
The effort has more recently focused on electronic cigarettes. Proposed legislation from state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, would prohibit “vaping” in bars, restaurants, hospitals and other workplaces, while state health officials launched a campaign against e-cigarettes on Wednesday.
All efforts will likely face tremendous opposition from tobacco companies, once a toxic political presence, who have again become major players at the state Capitol.
Editor’s note: This post was updated at 4:03 p.m. with more information about previous efforts in other states.

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