On Mar. 3, California Assembly passed six anti-tobacco bills designed to deter adolescents from taking up smoking, and e-cigarette users from vaping in crowded locations.
According to the new rules, it will soon be illegal to smoke in The Golden State if you’re not 21 yet. Additionally, you can no longer use e-cigarettes in theaters, restaurants, and other venues where smoking is expressly banned.
Regulators said that the anti-tobacco measures would lower health risks associated with smoking. Yet, the new legislation needs to get through the Senate and state Governor to become law.
Some Republican assemblymen criticized the new regulations for being hypocritical. If the package of bills gets the final approval, it would be illegal to smoke in California if you’re not 21 years old yet, even though you would be old enough to join the military.
“You can give your life but you can’t buy a pack of cigarettes,”
said Chad Mayes, one of the Republicans who voted against the bill.
Some military members requested that lawmakers at least approve an exemption for people serving in the military.
Four Democrats opposed the bill including Adam Gray who argued that 18-year old Californians are old enough to decide for themselves in various issues including the military service. So, preventing them from smoking until they’re 21 it would like taking away a right, Gray noted.
Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins praised the new rules saying that lawmakers had to put up with “significant” lobbying attempts from the Big Tobacco to block the new legislation. Atkins described the package of bills as the most far-reaching anti-tobacco legislation the state has seen in the last half of century.
Save Lives California, the American Cancer Society, and California Medical Assn were the most prominent backers of the new laws. The health groups argued that 95 percent of smokers take up the habit before they are 21.
Surprisingly, getting Democrats to vote for the bills was a strenuous job though Democrats are usually against smoking and tobacco products.
Evan Low, a Democratic assemblyman, recalls that he had to convince 10 fellow Democrats and three Republicans to vote yes for the new legislation. He said that it was the toughest lobbying task he had to carry out since he was appointed Assemblyman in 2014.
But he explained that it was so hard because he had to get positive votes for all six bills in the package. In the end, the package passed on a 46-26 vote.
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