State May Change Legal Smoking Age

The California State Senate is considering a bill that would increase the legal smoking age from 18 to 21.

CALIFORNIA—State Senator Ed Hernandez who represents the 24th Senate district, introduced a bill on January 29, that would raise the legal smoking age in California from 18 to 21

“Tobacco companies know that people are more likely to become addicted to smoking if they start at a young age” Hernandez said in a statement. “We can no longer afford to sit on the sidelines while big tobacco markets to our kids and gets another generation of young people hooked on a product that will ultimately kill them.”

The statement cited the American Lung Association, which reports that nine in ten smokers take up the habit by the age of 18 and 36,000 California kids start smoking each year.

Senator Hernandez’s bill follows State Senator Mark Leno’s bill, which proposes restrictions on electronic cigarettes in bars, restaurant patios, hospitals and other public places.

If the bill gets signed into law, California would become the first state to raise the minimum smoking age to 21. Previous efforts to raise the legal smoking age in New Jersey, Utah, Colorado and Maryland have all failed.

Senator Hernandez is undeterred but remains somewhat discouraged. He wrote in the statement, “All efforts will likely face tremendous opposition from tobacco companies, once a toxic political presence, who have again become major players at the state Capitol.”