California has become the second state in the U.S. to raise to tobacco purchase age to 21. The bill was signed at the 11th hour by Governor Jerry Brown after numerous delays. California joins Hawaii as the two U.S. states to implement a minimum tobacco purchase age of 21.
An exemption for the new smoking age was given to active members of the military over the age of 18.
After previously stalling in the legislature, the bills were revived and passed through both the State Assembly and State Senate back in March. However the bills were held by the legislature for over a month when there were threats of a referendum campaign were made by a lobbyist group for tobacco giant Altria. Brown had until midnight tonight (May 5th) to sign the bills and did so several hours before the deadline.
The raising of the smoking age was part of five anti-tobacco bills signed by the Governor that included:
- SB-7 This legislation raises the legal age for purchasing tobacco from 18 to 21 with an exception for active members of the military who are 18 and over.
- SB-5 This legislation that will regulate e-cigarettes like traditional tobacco products.
- AB-7 : This legislation expands California’s smoke-free workplace laws to include self-employed individuals who bring clients to their offices, and also removes some some current exemptions for bars, warehouses, and hotel lobbies, bars and warehouse facilities.
- AB-9: This legislation expands broadens California’s tobacco-free school laws to cover all school property at all times.
- AB-11 This legislation increases the licensing fees for distributing and selling tobacco products, starting in 2017.
Brown vetoed one measure that would have allowed local municipalities to impose their own cigar taxes, but this is something that will be put before voters on a November ballot.
The new smoking age goes into effect on June 9th.