California Law Raising Smoking Age to 21 Goes into Effect

People can do a lot of things when they become an adult at age 18. Smoking is no longer one of them.

A new California law that went into effect Thursday ups the smoking age from 18 to 21. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill last month, which in addition to raising the legal age to buy tobacco also limits the use of e-cigarettes in public and expands no-smoking areas to public schools.

State Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina), who chairs the Senate Health Committee, introduced the bill to fight tobacco companies that market their products to young adults.

“California is sending a strong message that we will not tolerate Big Tobacco’s deceptive marketing of this lethal product aimed at addicting our kids,” Hernandez said in a press release.

California now has some of the strictest smoking laws in the nation. Earlier this year, Hawaii became the first state to up the age to 21.

Hernandez called the law a victory for everyone today and generations to come. He said it will save many lives and lower the costs of our healthcare system.

Senate Bill 14 notes, “Tobacco use costs Californians more than $13.29 billion in health care expenses every year, of which $3.5 billion is paid for by taxpayers through existing health care programs and services that provide health care, treatment, and services for Californians.”

The new law includes cigarettes and chewing tobacco. It exempts active military members, who can still buy tobacco from the age of 18 and up.

A study from the federal Institute of Medicine shows that about 90 percent of adults who smoke on a daily basis picked up the habit by the age of 19. The same research showed that boosting the legal age to 21 would prevent 200,000 premature deaths for kids born between years 2000 and 2019.

Santa Clara County raised the smoking age to 21 for unincorporated areas earlier this year.

This post has been updated.

5 Comments

  1. “The new law includes cigarettes and chewing tobacco. It exempts active military members, who can still buy tobacco from the age of 18 and up.”

    If you’re old enough to fight and die for your country, we want to make sure you keep the right to kill yourself slowly too.

    What a joke! This makes no sense to me.

    We are twisting up our thinking here. We should change the law about when you can join the military too then. We should only allow those 21 and older to join to military. Doesn’t it make sense to allow the frontal lobe to fully develop before making a decision like that?

    This country could have a program for 18,19, and 20 years olds to serve their community prior to military service in order to help local cities become stronger. Then they could choose to continue into the military upon turning 21. I’m SO grateful to those that join the military. I am always in awe of those that join and serve our country. I just think that if we have determined that 18 year olds aren’t old enough to make a decision about smoking, they certainly are not old enough to make a decision about joining the military.

    Or to put all this another way, why don’t we just make the age of becoming an adult 21? It’s getting old all this talk of 18 for this and 21 for that, 18 for that and 21 for this. Come on….let’s decide how long we allow humans to be labeled as “children” and apply the same measuring stick to all things.

    • > Come on….let’s decide how long we allow humans to be labeled as “children” and apply the same measuring stick to all things.

      Makes sense to me.

      It is particularly absurd that people can still be “children” up to age 26 for the purpose of signing up for Obamacare.

    • hi have you ever met a veteran who has had their morning cigarette….believe me you don’t want to.
      sincerely,
      The soldier who needs them

  2. Rather ironic the military trusted me with a machine gun working around nukes and secrets , but I could have a hand gun till the year I got out!

  3. Another ignorant law. So 21 year olds can buy alcohol, but not tobacco. We can send 18-21 year olds to war, and to prison, but not allow them to buy tobacco. We can use tobacco taxes to fund cancer, children’s programs, etc, no problem with that huh? Who thinks up this incredibly ridiculous stuff? Incredible really….

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