The law will become effective June 9, 2016, which is 90 days after the Legislature voted to end the Second Extraordinary Session pertaining to Health.
“The Governor’s signature on Tobacco 21 is a signal that California presents a united front against Big Tobacco. Together, we stand to disrupt the chain of adolescent addiction,” said Senator Hernandez. “The fierce opposition from Big Tobacco on this measure proves just how important this law is and how much their business model relies on targeting our kids.”
The bill was the target of fierce opposition from tobacco industry lobbyists in recent weeks, including a referendum threat to go “scorched earth” and buy up signature gatherers to achieve that goal.
By increasing the tobacco age to 21, this new law will substantially restrict youth access to tobacco. A 2015 federal Institute of Medicine (IOM) study found that roughly 90 percent of adults who became daily smokers reported that they first began using cigarettes before reaching 19 years of age. The IOM report concluded that increasing the minimum age to 21 would result in 200,000 fewer premature deaths for those born between the years 2000 and 2019. Additionally, disease from tobacco use is a major driver of health care costs, with upwards of $3.5 billion annually in Medi-Cal costs, and as much as $18 billion to the overall health care system.
“Ultimately, Tobacco 21 will save countless lives, reduce astronomical costs to the health care system, and cost very little because it uses existing enforcement mechanisms,” said Senator 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.”
This bill is supported by the Save Lives California Coalition, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, American Cancer Society, the California Medical Association, the California Dental Association, other major health organizations, parents and community leaders statewide.
SB 2X 7 is part of the most expansive tobacco control legislative package in over a decade. Other measures approved by the Governor include:
- SB2x 5 (Leno) Electronic Cigarettes
- SB2x 7 (Hernandez) Tobacco products: minimum legal age
- AB2x 7 (Stone) Smoking in the workplace
- AB2x 9 (Thurmond) Tobacco use programs
- AB2x 11 (Nazarian) Cigarette and tobacco product licensing: fees and funding