Assembly Approves Bill To Raise State Smoking Age from 18 to 21; Senate Unlikely To Pass Legislation
The Assembly yesterday voted 42-10 to pass a bill (AB 1453) that would raise the state's legal smoking age from 18 to 21, the Los Angeles Times reports. The legislation, sponsored by Assembly member Paul Koretz (D-West Hollywood), would ban the sale of tobacco products to individuals younger than age 21 (Ortiz/Bustillo, Los Angeles Times, 8/22). The bill would exempt individuals born before 1985 and would not affect those between ages 18 and 21 this year. In addition to the smoking age provision, the bill would ban ashtrays in areas that prohibit smoking and require them in designated smoking areas. The legislation also would restrict the distribution of free tobacco products (California Healthline, 7/18). The Times reports that opponents "quietly criticized" the bill, which would cost the state an estimated $26 million in lost tobacco tax revenue. Others said that 18- to 21-year-olds should have the opportunity to decide for themselves whether to smoke. Koretz defended the bill, which he said "will save lives of young people who will never take up smoking during those crucial last years between 18 and 21" (Los Angeles Times, 8/22).
Several hours after the Assembly passed the bill, the legislation "was left for dead" in the Senate Appropriations Committee, Copley/San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The committee held the bill without debate over concerns about the loss of tobacco tax revenue. Supporters "argued in vain" that the bill would lead to a long-term reduction in health care costs for the state. According to Copley/Union-Tribune, with the Legislature set to adjourn for the year on Aug. 31, the "measure's brief run through the process appeared to be over" (Sweeney, Copley/San Diego-Union Tribune, 8/22).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.