Calif. Democrats Reintroduce Package of Tobacco Bills
On Thursday, California lawmakers reintroduced a package of six tobacco bills, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports (Horowitz, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 7/16).
The measures will be considered during a special legislative session on health care financing in August after they stalled earlier this month (McGreevy, "PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 7/16).
Details of Bills
The package of bills was introduced by Democratic lawmakers in both the Assembly and state Senate. It includes:
- SB 5/AB 6, which would add electronic cigarettes to the existing definition of tobacco products;
- SB 6/AB 7, which would add hotel lobbies, small businesses, break rooms and tobacco retailers to the list of smoke-free workplaces under state law;
- SB 7/AB 8, which would increase the minimum age for purchasing tobacco products to 21 years old;
- SB 8/AB 9, which would require all schools in the state to be tobacco-free;
- SB 9/AB 10, which would allow local jurisdictions across the state to tax tobacco; and
- SB 10/AB 11, which would create an annual Board of Equalization tobacco licensing fee program (Save Lives California release, 7/16).
For more on the tobacco bills, see today's "Capitol Desk" post.
Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina), the author of SB 7, noted in a release that tobacco use is "the leading cause of preventable death" in the U.S., causing 480,000 preventable deaths each year.
In addition, Hernandez said tobacco creates a "heavy burden financially" for the state. He noted that UC-San Francisco found that tobacco use costs California $18.1 billion annually, with health care costs accounting for more than half of that total (Hernandez release, 7/16).
Meanwhile, American Cancer Society spokesperson Tim Gibbs noted that Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program, spends $3.5 billion annually to treat tobacco-related illnesses (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 7/16).
Advocates Express Support
In a Save Lives California coalition release, California Medical Association President Luther Cobb said, "This package of bills represents a tremendous step forward for a healthier California," adding, "These bills will help to keep tobacco out of the hands of our youth while also helping to increase the overall health and wellness of Californians."
Several other groups also expressed support for the measures, including the:
- American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network;
- American Heart Association Western States Affiliate;
- American Lung Association;
- California Dental Association;
- Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California;
- Service Employees International Union California; and
- SEIU United Long-Term Care Workers (Save Lives California release, 7/16).
However, Republican lawmakers have said they are hesitant to pass new government restrictions.
Amanda Fulkerson, a spokesperson for Assembly Republicans, said, "We'd be interested in ensuring any time we're changing laws there is an actual, direct impact on public health" (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 7/16).
On Thursday, Capital Public Radio's "KXJZ News" reported on the tobacco bills (Adler, "KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 7/16).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.