Six tobacco bills to be taken up during special session on health

July 27, 2015
Area(s) of Interest: Advocacy Public Health 

Six bills aimed at saving lives and reducing the cost of tobacco-related diseases on California’s health system will be taken up during the Legislature’s second special session to address health care — a meeting ordered by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Some of the bills being proposed are the same as those introduced in the Capitol earlier this year, including bills to add e-cigarettes to the existing tobacco products definition and to increase the age of sale for tobacco products to 21. Other bills introduced would allow local jurisdictions to tax tobacco products and require all schools in the state to be tobacco-free.

The Save Lives California coalition, which includes the California Medical Association (CMA), American Heart Association (AHA), the American Cancer Society and several other health organizations, applauded Senate and Assembly Democrats for announcing the introduction of these bills to fight tobacco use — the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the state.

CMA President Luther F. Cobb, M.D., said the bills symbolize a “tremendous step forward for a healthier California” and that they will help to curb tobacco use in California’s youth.

That statement was echoed by Laphonza Butler, president of SEIU California and SEIU United Long-Term Care Workers (ULTCW), organizations that are also part of the Save Lives coalition.

“These bills save lives by stopping young people from picking up cigarettes, and by strengthening our health care system, which must deal with the damage caused by smoking-related diseases in our communities,” Butler said. “The Save Lives coalition is proud to work with legislative leaders to reduce the toll smoking takes on Californians’ health.”

Three out of every four kids who try cigarettes continue to smoke as adults, and half of those smokers will die from tobacco-related illnesses, according to American Cancer Society Action Network Vice President Jim Knox.

“This is an opportunity California can’t afford to miss,” said Kirk Knowlton, M.D., AHA Western States Affiliate board president. “Smoking contributes directly to heart disease and stroke, the No. 1 and No. 5 leading causes of death for Californians. The passage of this package of bills will have an immediate, life-saving impact by reducing the No. 1 preventable cause of premature death and disability.”

To learn more about the coalition and see a full list of supporters, visit www.savelivescalifornia.com.


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