California Becomes Second State To Raise Smoking Age To 21

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Starting on June 9, California will officially be the second state — after Hawaii — to bar most people under the age of 21 from smoking, buying, or possessing traditional cigarettes. 

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a series of bills on Wednesday that revamped the state’s smoking laws, including measures that bump the minimum legal age to partake in tobacco products up from 18 and restrict the use of electronic cigarettes in public places, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The bill package, which was supposed to be voted on last year, officially passed the state’s Senate and Assembly during a special session on healthcare that began in March.

Now that the bills have been signed into law, they will go into effect on June 9.

State Sen. Ed Hernandez, who introduced the age increase bill, tells the L.A. Times that the measure will help save lives.

“The governor’s signature on Tobacco 21 is a signal that California presents a united front against Big Tobacco,” Hernandez said. “Together, we stand to disrupt the chain of adolescent addiction.”

The passage of the minimum age bill comes just two months after the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors voted to increase the legal smoking age from 18 to 21.

While the Los Angeles age limit increase covered all consumers, the state measure provides an exemption for those under 21 who are in active military service.

The L.A. Times reports that the bills were championed by the coalition called Save Live California, consisting of the American Cancer Society and the American Lung Association. The groups contended that 95% of adult smokers start before the age of 21.

Under other legislation signed on Wednesday, electronic cigarettes are considered to be tobacco products and cannot be used in restaurants, theaters, bars, and other places where smoking is banned.

The devices also cannot be marketed to minors.

California’s smoking age raised from 18 to 21 under bills signed by Gov. Brown [The Los Angeles Times]