A bill is going through the legislature which describes that California is considering raising the legal smoking age from 18 to 21. This would put them in alignment with alcohol laws and make California the first state to not only make 21 the minimum smoking age but also the first state to raise the smoking age.
The bill reads, “The Legislature finds and declares that reducing and eventually eliminating the illegal purchase and consumption of tobacco products by any person under 21 years of age is critical to ensuring the long-term health of our state’s citizens. California must fully comply with federal regulations, particular the ‘Synar Amendment’ that restrict tobacco sales to minors and require states of vigorously enforce their laws prohibiting the sale and distribution of tobacco products to persons under 18 years of age.”
California Senator Ed Hernandez has sponsored the bill, saying “Tobacco companies know that people are more likely to become addicted to smoking if they start at a young age. We can no longer afford to sit on the sidelines while Big Tobacco markets to our kids and gets another generation of young people hooked on a product that will ultimately kill them.”
Robert Best, Western regional representative for smoker’s rights group The Smoker’s Club, responds, “It’s funny that the politicians in Sacramento have nothing to better to do with their time than continually attack smokers as a minority.” He goes on to say that many people start smoking before the age of 18 and that simply changing the law would not change behavior. He also argues contrarily that the legislature should lower the drinking age to 18.
He argues, “When you are 18 you are an adult and you get to do what you want.”