If a proposed set of bills is signed into law in California, it could drastically affect how many people are allowed to smoke tobacco and use vaping devices. The proposed laws are meant to address the amount of teen smoking in the state by raising the legal smoking age from 18 to 21, including e-cigarettes and similar products.
What Does This Law Do?
The proposed laws would include e-cigarettes in the Stop Tobacco Access to Kids Enforcement Act that keeps businesses from selling tobacco products to minors. In addition to raising the legal smoking age to 21 (active military members would be exempt), the law would not allow anyone to vape where smoking is prohibited, such as workplaces, schools and restaurants. It would also be possible for local governments to tax e-cigarettes like other tobacco products.
Businesses and individuals who attempt to sell tobacco products to those under 21 would face the same punishment as they currently do with those under 18. Penalties include hundreds or thousands of dollars in fines for each violation, along with a suspension of your business license. Those who buy or possess tobacco under the age of 18 would face a $75 fine and 30 hours of community service.
If the bills were to become law, California would be only the second state with a smoking age of 21, along with Hawaii.
Will It Pass?
A total of six measures were approved by the Senate with a majority of senators supporting the movement. It is now up to Governor Jerry Brown to sign the age increase bill, and he is expected to do so within the next two months. The bills had heavy Democratic support in the Assembly and very little Republican opposition.
If passed by the Assembly and Senate, it is anticipated that Gov. Jerry Brown will sign it into law.
The Effect on Vaping
Vaping is seen as a healthier and much more popular alternative to smoking tobacco. Research shows that vaping is an effective way to help many cut back on cigarettes or quit smoking entirely. Studies have also found that bans on e-cigarettes cause smoking rates to slightly increase with minors.
If the bills were to become law, it would also affect the e-cigarette and vaping business in a negative way. If 21 became the legal age, employees who work at vape shops or in the vaping industry under that age would not be able to work at those businesses. Owners of vapor shops in California have said that a third of their employees and customer base are between the ages of 18 and 21.
Pushing the legal smoking age to 21 makes sense from a standpoint of preventing young people from having easy access to addictive substances. However, it would negatively impact the growing vaping and e-cigarette industry that is seen as a better alternative to the use of actual tobacco.
Making a substance illegal also doesn’t prevent those from accessing it and young people could go to bordering states to make purchases. It is also odd that marijuana was excluded from this blanket bill, a substance that most states deem illegal for all ages.
Wallin and Klarich Wants to Hear From You
At Wallin and Klarich, we want to know what you think about this proposed law. Do you feel it would be a good decision for California? Should the law be more restrictive or at least allow vaping to be legal? Share your thoughts in the comments below.