The California Senate voted Thursday to approve a bill that would raise the minimum age to buy tobacco products in the state from 18 to 21.
Having also passed in the California State Assembly a week prior, the bill will now be sent to Democratic California Governor Jerry Brown’s desk. According to The Daily Californian, Deborah Hoffman, a spokesman for Gov. Brown, declined to comment on whether he intends to sign the bill and thus enact it into law.
The bill contains an exemption for active-duty military members, but bill opponent Sen. Joel Anderson (R-San Diego) claims that the exemption includes a loophole wherein some veterans under age 21 could lose their right to purchase tobacco products upon returning home from war.
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Bill sponsor Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) claimed that the fact that the tobacco industry lobbied against the bill to block 18, 19, and 20 year-old Californians from smoking shows that it intends “to market and sell this poison to our kids.”
A majority of Republicans opposed the bill, citing freedom of choice.
“I don’t smoke. I don’t encourage my children to,” Assemblyman Donald Wagner (R-Irvine) told KQED-TV. “But they’re adults, and it’s our job to treat our citizens as adults, not to nanny them.”
“This will save the medical system in the outgoing years millions of dollars. It will save thousands of lives,” said Assemblyman Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg).
CNN is reporting that San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors voted on March 1 to raise the California city’s smoking age to 21.
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The bill passed alongside a package of anti-tobacco proposals, including one bill which would regulate electronic cigarettes in a manner similar to traditional tobacco products, complete with bans on their use in certain public places. The Los Angeles Times notes that Senate leader Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles) characterized the package of anti-tobacco bills as “the most expansive tobacco control legislative package in over a decade.”