Package of six bills would raise smoking age, regulate e-cigarettes

July 17, 2015
Area(s) of Interest: Access to Care Advocacy Public Health 

Sacramento, CA — The Save Lives California coalition praised Senate and Assembly Democrats for announcing a bold package of bills to fight the No. 1 cause of preventable death in California: tobacco use.

The bills will be taken up during the second extraordinary session, called by Governor Jerry Brown to address healthcare. In a display of strong cooperation and determination, the two houses have each introduced the same six bills aimed at preventing death from tobacco-related diseases and reducing costs of smoking on California’s health system by reducing smoking and deterring young people from finding smoking attractive.

“This package of bills represents a tremendous step forward for a healthier California,” said Luther Cobb, M.D., California Medical Association (CMA) president. “These bills will help to keep tobacco out of the hands of our youth while also helping to increase the overall health and wellness of Californians .”

“The addictive power of nicotine causes three out of every four kids who try cigarettes to continue smoking into adulthood where half of them will die from tobacco-related illnesses,” said American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network Vice President Jim Knox.  “We need to dramatically reduce those odds.”

“Dentists have long stood as an important line of defense not just for our patients’ oral health, but their overall health,” said CDA President Walt G. Weber, DDS. “Every day, our members see the devastation caused by cigarettes and other forms of tobacco use.”

“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,” said Laphonza Butler, president of SEIU California and SEIU United Long-Term Care Workers (ULTCW). “The Save Lives Coalition is proud to work with legislative leaders to reduce the toll smoking takes on Californians’ health.”

“This package of bills will increase public health and reduce teen smoking,” Paul Knepprath, vice president, policy & public affairs for Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California. “This is a huge step in the right direction to ensure that our kids and our communities are healthier.”

“Taken together, this legislation is essential to building a healthier, smoke-free California,” said Olivia J. (Gertz) Diaz-Lapham, president and CEO, American Lung Association in California. “The net effect of these bills would be millions of lives and dollars saved in our state.”

“This is an opportunity California can’t afford to miss,” said Dr. Kirk Knowlton, American Heart Association (AHA) Western States Affiliate (WSA) Board President. “Smoking contributes directly to heart disease and stroke, the number 1 and number 5 leading causes of death for Californians. The passage of this package of bills will have an immediate, life-saving impact by reducing the number one preventable cause of pre-mature death and disability.

The Legislature will evaluate the following bills during the extraordinary session:

SB 5 X2 (Leno)/ AB 6 X2 (Cooper)
Add e-cigarettes to existing tobacco products definition. 

This bill addresses growing public health concerns about the unregulated use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) in California. It includes e-cigarettes within the existing tobacco products definition, thereby restricting the use of e-cigarettes in the same locations as traditional cigarettes. It will also increase the penalties and enforcement options for selling e-cigarettes to minors and require e-cigarette retailers to be licensed.

SB 6 X2 (Monning)/ AB 7 X2 (Stone)
Close loopholes in smoke-free workplace laws, including hotel lobbies, small businesses, break rooms, and tobacco retailers.

In 1994, California led the nation when it passed a smoke-free workplace law. This groundbreaking law helped protect millions of workers and business patrons from the health dangers associated with secondhand smoke, including cancer, heart disease and stroke, and respiratory diseases.  However, that law, which included a handful of exemptions, now lags behind other states’ smoke free workplace laws because of those exemptions.  This bill repeals most of those exemptions.

SB 7 X2 (Hernandez)/ AB 8 X2 (Wood)
Increase age of sale for tobacco products to 21. 

It is estimated that 90 percent of tobacco users start prior to age 21, and 80 percent of lifetime users start before the age of 18. By increasing the minimum legal age to 21, this bill intends to prevent or severely restrict youth access to these highly addictive and deadly products.

SB 8 X2 (Liu)/ AB 9 X2 (Thurmond and Nazarian)
Require all schools to be tobacco free. 

This bill is aimed at reducing smoking prevalence among youth in California schools. Currently, only school districts and county offices of education that receive Proposition 99 Tobacco tax funding are required to adopt and enforce a tobacco-free campus policy. This bill would close that gap by requiring that all districts adopt 100% tobacco-free policies.

SB 9 X2 (McGuire)/ AB 10 X2 (Bloom)
Allow local jurisdictions to tax tobacco. 

This bill would allow counties to levy taxes on tobacco distributers.  It would be subject to the usual rules for the adoption of such taxes.

SB 10 X2 (Beall) / AB 11 X2 (Nazarian)
Establish an annual Board of Equalization tobacco licensing fee program.

Senator Jim Beall and Assembly Member Adrin Nazarian. Establish an annual Board of Equalization (BOE) tobacco licensing fee that is high enough to cover the program’s cost, as opposed to the current one-time fee.

Saves Lives California, a coalition of Doctors, Dentists, Health Plans, Labor, and Non-profit Health Advocate Organizations.


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