California Senate Panel Approves Package of Six Tobacco Bills
On Wednesday, a California Senate committee approved a package of six tobacco-related bills, the Los Angeles Times' "PolitiCal" reports (McGreevy, "PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 8/19).
The package, introduced by Democratic lawmakers in both the Assembly and Senate, were revived during a special legislative session on health care financing this month after stalling in July.
The package includes:
- SBX2-5/ABX2-6, which would add electronic cigarettes to the existing definition of tobacco products;
- SBX2-6/ABX2-7, which would add hotel lobbies, small businesses, break rooms and tobacco retailers to the list of smoke-free workplaces under state law;
- SBX2-7/ABX2-8, which would increase the minimum age for purchasing tobacco products to 21 years old;
- SBX2-8/ABX2-9, which would require all schools in the state to be tobacco-free;
- SBX2-9/ABX2-10, which would allow local jurisdictions across the state to tax tobacco; and
- SBX2-10/ABX2-11, which would create an annual Board of Equalization tobacco licensing fee program (California Healthline, 7/17).
Details of Hearing
During a state Senate Public Health and Developmental Services Committee hearing, state Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) --who introduced SBX2-5 -- said, "The fastest growing market segment of this very quickly growing industry is made up of children of middle- and high-school ages." Leno added that his bill "will definitely protect the next generation."
SBX2-5 faced opposition from several groups during the hearing, "PolitiCal" reports.
Michael Mullins, of the Smoke Free Alternative Trade Association, said the bill would "stymie a growing industry" of e-cigarette products.
Kari Hess, co-owner of Nor Cal Vape, said SBX2-5 could lead to a tax in the industry, which would "make vapor products cost prohibitive."
Meanwhile, state Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina), who introduced SBx2-7 to raise the minimum legal age to buy cigarettes, told the committee, "It should not be so easy for our children to get ahold of this deadly drug."
Opponents of SBX2-7 argued that if residents can decide to join the military at age 18, they should be able to decide whether they want to smoke at the same age ("PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 8/19).
The legislative package now heads to the state Senate Appropriations Committee.
American Lung Association Reaction
In a statement, Kimberly Amazeen, vice president of public policy and advocacy at the American Lung Association in California, said, "This step in the Senate represents a move toward immediate life-saving policy in California."
She added, "Not only will this pack of bills increase public health, but they will reduce teen smoking, which in turn will result in less heart disease, stroke and other smoking-related illnesses" (Save Lives California release, 8/19).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.