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Californians Must Be 21 To Purchase Cigarettes

Sacramento, CA — With a midnight deadline looming that could have automatically enacted six tobacco-restricting bills, Governor Jerry Brown signed five, including one that raises the age limit.

Brown’s signature sets the legal age to buy tobacco for smoking, dipping, chewing and vaping from 18 to 21.  Military personnel are exempt. The other four bills approved in the package of six includes regulating electronic cigarettes, establishing annual tobacco license fees, banning tobacco at charter schools, and expanding tobacco-free workplaces to include small businesses, break rooms and hotel lobbies.

The only bill vetoed by Brown would allow counties to implement taxes on cigarettes and tobacco products.  In a letter, the Governor gave his reasons for not signing the bill stating, “Although California has one of the lowest cigarette tax rates in the nation, I am reluctant to approve this measure in view of all the taxes being proposed for the 2016 ballot.”  (To view the entire notice, click here.)

In a strategic move, Democratic lawmakers held back the package of proposals, which were passed nearly two months ago, until just before the deadline; fearing possible political threats from tobacco companies to overturn them.

Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids​ applauded the Governor’s actions, stating that by increasing the tobacco age to 21, the nation’s largest state provides incredible momentum to similar efforts nationwide.  However, he noted his disappointment in the Governor’s veto, remarking that it would have further reduced tobacco use.