The legal age to buy cigarettes may soon level up to the drinking age—at least for unincorporated Santa Clara County.
In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors agreed to return next month with draft ordinance that would up the tobacco purchasing age to 21.
If passed, the new law would go into effect Jan. 1 and make Silicon Valley the latest of dozens of jurisdictions to adopt a similar rule. San Jose City Councilman Don Rocha and Palo Alto City Councilwoman Liz Kniss have each expressed an interest in localizing the ordinance in their respective cities.
“After years of public health gains, smoking behaviors seem to be getting popular with youth again,” said Supervisor Ken Yeager, who initiated the ordinance. “We need aggressive measures to combat Big Tobacco’s increased efforts to hook young people on nicotine.”
About a dozen stores would be affected by the new rule, which also applies to e-cigarettes and vapes. Yeager’s proposal comes on the heels of a study commissioned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that predicts smoking prevalence would fall about 12 percent by raising the purchasing age to 21. Smoking-related deaths would drop by about 10 percent, according to that same study.