Amendment to Tobacco Control Bill Would Raise State Smoking Age from 18 to 21
Assembly member Paul Koretz (D-West Hollywood) plans to amend an anti-smoking bill (AB 1453) to include a provision that would raise the state's legal smoking age from 18 to 21, making it the highest in the nation, the AP/Contra Costa Times reports. To reduce smoking rates among youth, the amendment would make it illegal for individuals younger than age 21 to purchase tobacco products. The deadline for introducing new legislation has passed, and as a result, Koretz said that he plans to amend an existing bill that would ban ashtrays in areas where smoking is prohibited and require them in designated smoking areas. The bill also would restrict the distribution of free tobacco products. Koretz's proposed amendment comes after the California Medical Association voted in February to push for raising the smoking age to 21 (AP/Contra Costa Times, 6/3). The CMA also voted to lobby for increased fines and enforcement efforts to prevent underage tobacco use (California Healthline, 2/25). Some anti-smoking advocates are concerned that the legislation could "derail" other efforts, including the push to increase the state's tax on tobacco products. Although Philip Morris said it would remain "neutral" on the bill, spokesperson Brendan McCormick said that according to the company, enforcement of existing laws is a more effective way to reduce teen smoking rates. "We will be guided by whatever society says the minimum age should be for tobacco products," he added (AP/Contra Costa Times, 6/3).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.