California’s youngest adults will be losing their legal access to cigarettes next month. Gov. Jerry Brown signed five bills into law Wednesday that restrict the use of tobacco and e-cigarette products, with one of them raising the legal smoking age to 21 from 18.
That new law bars people under 21 from using “any tobacco, cigarette, cigarette papers, any other instrument or paraphernalia that is designed for the smoking or ingestion of tobacco, products prepared from tobacco, or any controlled substance.” It also increases the fine for anybody helping to provide these items to people under age 21 to as much as $1,000. The law takes effect June 9.
California was the first state to ban smoking in public places (in 1995), but years of intense industry lobbying has slowed its once-leading pace in stemming the use of cancer-causing cigarettes. It became the second state to raise the smoking age after Hawaii passed a similar law in April.
The move is “going to send a shock wave across the country,” California state Sen. Ed Hernandez, the Democratic author of the legislation raising the smoking age, told the Associated Press.
Brown also signed a measure that includes e-cigarettes under most of the rules covering conventional tobacco products.
Another bill the governor signed closes loopholes that have allowed smoking in certain areas, such as employee break rooms, hotel lobbies and warehouse facilities. Another expands eligibility for funding tobacco use prevention programs at educational institutions, including charter schools. And another raises licensing fees for operations dealing in tobacco products.
However, Brown vetoed legislation that would have raised sales taxes on tobacco products. In a letter to the state Assembly, the governor said he was reluctant to sign a measure that would have raised the levy “in view of all the taxes being proposed for the 2016 ballot.”