California raise smoking age 21

February 6, 2015

State Senator Ed Hernandez of Azusa has proposed Bill 151 which would make California the state with the oldest minimum smoking age in the US.

In a statement released last Friday, Hernandez argues that raising the minimum age to 21 will reduce the number children and young adults who become exposed and addicted to tobacco early on. He points out that tobacco companies themselves are aware of the tendency for those who start young to become addicted.

Impactful statistics from the American Lung Association in California state that nine out of ten smokers had taken up the habit by their 18th birthday, and that 36,000 Californian children begin smoking each year.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued figures which indicate that cigarette smoking kills nearly half a million Americans annually.

Currently the vast majority of US states have their legal smoking age set to 18, with only a few having raised it to 19. There are smaller jurisdictions within some states, including New York City, which have increased the smoking age to 21.

In addition to banning the sale of tobacco products to anyone younger than 21, there would also be authorization within the bill for random inspections of tobacco retailers to ensure compliance. Tobacco companies would also be barred from advertising to individuals younger than 21.

The proposal is being backed with support from the American Cancer Society, the Cancer Action Network and the American Lung Association.

So should we make it more difficult to purchase cigarettes? Undoubtedly, it’s easy to get behind the idea of having fewer children smoking. Less clear however, is if raising the minimum age will be effective in reducing the incidence of this occurring. It is also up for debate whether we should grant our 18-year-olds the opportunity to march into battle, but not to purchase tobacco (a simple and pervasive argument, but one that deserves consideration).

I’m not here to make the decision for anyone. I’m on the sidelines asking these questions, both to you and to myself.

John Rosenbaum is an Orange County workers compensation and personal injury attorney. With over thirty years in the field he has maintained an incredibly high success rate (over 99.8%), earning him the respect and recommendations of colleagues, professionals and clients alike. If you need legal services in the south Orange County (Laguna Hills) region, give our offices a call today for your 100% free no-obligation consultation.

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