California has passed a new law that raises its smoking age from 18 to 21 for most of its citizens. Initially, the bill made it illegal for everyone under 21 to purchase tobacco products, but some argued if 18 year olds can be drafted or volunteer to fight and die for their country, then they should be allowed to purchase tobacco products.
“[These laws] will save countless lives, reduce astronomical costs to the health care system, and cost very little because it uses existing enforcement mechanisms,” said Senator Ed Hernandez. “Today was an enormous victory for not only this generation, but also for many generations to come who will not suffer the deadly impacts of tobacco.”
In January, Hawaii became the first state in the U.S. to raise the smoking age to 21, following the lead of many U.S. cities, including Boston, San Francisco, and New York, according to CNN.
The new laws also ban the sale of electronic cigarettes and vaporizers to anyone under 21 and restricts where they can be used in public places. Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association swiftly condemned the stipulation about limitations to vapor products (some of which contain no tobacco) in the new law, calling it “counterproductive to public health.”
The Institute of Medicine estimates that setting the minimum smoking age at 21 nationwide would likely result in nearly a quarter-million fewer premature deaths and around 50,000 fewer deaths from lung cancer among people born between 2000 and 2019.