May 04, 2016
Area(s) of Interest: Access to Care Advocacy Public Health
The California Medical Association (CMA), a longtime leader in the public health fight against tobacco use, applauded Gov. Brown for signing a sweeping series of tobacco control bills today — action that will undoubtedly save countless Californians from a deadly, lifetime addiction to nicotine.
“CMA thanks Gov. Brown, Senate and Assembly leadership, and the many legislators involved in passing the most robust package of tobacco control legislation in decades,” said Steven Larson, M.D., MPH, president of the California Medical Association. “California was once a leader in tobacco control. These laws move us toward restoring that leadership position.”
Tobacco use not only claims nearly 40,000 lives in California each year, but costs the state more than $13 billion in medical expenses annually and approximately $10.35 billion annually in lost productivity due to smoking-related diseases.
The bills signed into law today include increasing the age of purchase for tobacco products from 18 to 21, closing loopholes in the state’s smoke-free workplace laws, requiring all schools be tobacco free, establishing a tobacco licensing fee program under the state Board of Equalization and, importantly, classifying electronic cigarettes as tobacco products.
Last year, CMA joined with the state’s dentists, labor and other health advocates, to call for an increase in California’s tobacco tax, which has fallen among the lowest in the nation. The legislation was not part of the package of bills that made it to the governor’s desk.
“Increasing tobacco taxes has been proven to be the most effective way to curb teen smoking,” Dr. Larson added. “Though we’ve taken an important first step with passage of this package of bills, it will soon be California voters’ turn to finish the job by passing a tobacco tax increase to save lives and keep kids from smoking.”
CMA is a member of Save Lives California, a coalition dedicated to passing a $2-per-pack tobacco tax increase, with an equivalent increase on other tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes. Revenue generated by this user fee will fund existing healthcare programs, smoking prevention and research into cures for cancer and other tobacco-related diseases. Save Lives California is currently gathering signatures to qualify the measure for the November ballot.
For more information on Save Lives California, go to www.savelivesca.com.