March 10, 2016
Area(s) of Interest: Advocacy Public Health
Sacramento – Today, the California State Senate passed a landmark package of bills that will not only save thousands of lives, but also help reduce teen smoking rates and decrease the number of tobacco-related illnesses and deaths throughout the state.
“This is the most sweeping set of tobacco-related bills in decades,” said CMA President Steven E. Larson, M.D., MPH. “CMA and our 42,000 member physicians applaud the legislators who stood up to the tobacco lobby and made saving lives a priority. It’s clear that California is ready to move forward and implement tobacco reform that has a real impact on the future of health care.”
Bills that passed out of the Senate today include:
- SB 5 X2 by Senator Mark Leno will classify e-cigarettes as tobacco products. This will make them subject to smoke-free laws, age restrictions and other rules governing tobacco products.
- SB 7 X2 by Senator Ed Hernandez will raise the age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21.
- AB 7 X2 by Assemblymember Mark Stone will close loopholes in the state’s smoke-free workplace laws.
- AB 9 X2 by Assemblymembers Tony Thurmond and Adrin Nazarian will require all schools to be tobacco-free.
- AB 10 X2 by Assemblymember Richard Bloom will allow county boards of supervisors to put tobacco taxes up for local votes.
- AB 11 X2 by Assemblymember Nazarian will update the state’s tobacco licensing fee program.
California is just the second state in the country (after Hawaii) to increase the age to buy tobacco products to 21, and now one of just a few that classify e-cigarettes like other tobacco products. E-cigarette use among teens has been growing rapidly, and is associated with later smoking. Meanwhile, driven by research showing that very few people start smoking after their teens, more than 100 U.S. cities have raised their smoking age to 21, including San Francisco and Berkeley.
“Today marks a historic moment for public health in our state and sets a precedent that we hope the rest of the country will follow,” added Dr. Larson. “We must now look forward to November and use this momentum to pass a $2-per-pack tobacco tax ballot measure. California is ready for this.”
The California Healthcare, Research and Prevention Tobacco Tax Act of 2016 is backed by Save Lives California, a coalition of health advocates and others that includes the American Heart Association, American Lung Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the California Medical Association, California Dental Association, SEIU California, Blue Shield of California and philanthropist Tom Steyer. The money raised by the tax will fund health care costs and research into cures for cancer and other tobacco-related diseases.