Senate Health Committee Approves Legislation to Raise State Smoking Age from 18 to 21
The Senate Health and Human Services Committee Wednesday passed a bill (AB 1453) that would raise the state's legal smoking age from 18 to 21, the AP/Long Beach Press-Telegram reports (AP/Long Beach Press-Telegram, 6/27). The legislation would exempt individuals born before 1985 and would not affect those between ages 18 and 21 this year. The committee approved the legislation, sponsored by Assembly member Paul Koretz (D-West Hollywood), on a 7-1 vote (Sweeney, San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/26). 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, 6/3). The bill would "have an unknown fiscal impact" on state programs funded by the 50-cent-per-pack tax on tobacco products, but a loss of revenue "could be offset by long-term savings if fewer people seek health care for smoking-related illnesses," the AP/Press-Telegram reports. The California Medical Association, the American Lung Association of California and the California Nurses Association support the bill (AP/Long Beach Press-Telegram, 6/27). A Philip Morris Cos. spokesperson said that the company would "take no position" on the legislation. However, Koretz said, "The tobacco industry is saying publicly the states should decide. Privately, they're doing everything they can to keep people off the bill" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/26).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.