California governor passes tobacco laws

Louis LaVenture,

The days of 18-year-olds legally buying cigarettes at gas stations and liquor stores around the state of California will soon be a thing of the past beginning June 9.

On May 4, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed several tobacco-related bills into law that will raise the age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21, and limit the use and sale of e-cigarettes as well. On March 10, the California State Senate approved a package of tobacco regulation bills created by the State Assembly, which passed 26-10.

Senator Ed Hernandez, D-Azusa, author of the tobacco bill, was originally met with critics who were reluctant to pass it. The bill was authored “years ago” but just recently received the support necessary to be passed.

Hernandez said a recent emphasis on health and a special health meeting were key factors in the success of the bill. This regulation makes California the second state in the US to raise the tobacco purchasing age, joining Hawaii, who just adopted the policy on Jan. 1.

Much of the recent resistance stemmed around not allowing military members under the age of 21 to purchase tobacco.

However, the new laws include an exception for all military personnel.

Sen. Mark Leno, a Democrat from San Francisco, authored the bill that passed and says all e-cigarettes are to be banned in the same places cigarettes are, including public buildings, schools, restaurants and hospitals. The age to purchase and use e-cigarettes also increased to 21.

In addition to the new laws, Brown vetoed a key proposal which would have given the power of deciding cigarette taxes to every individual city.

“Although California has one of the lowest cigarette taxes in the nation, I am reluctant to approve this measure in view of all the taxes being proposed for the 2016 ballot,” Gov. Brown said in a statement.

According to the governor’s office, he also passed three additional bills that will make smoke-free workplaces mandatory and includes hotel lobbies, bars, banquet rooms and employee break rooms.

The decision comes as the California State University and California Community College systems await the governor’s decision on a bill that would ban smoking on all of the campuses.