The Democratic governor of California, Jerry Brown, has signed into law a bill that effectively raises the legal age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21. A slew of other regulations that restrict the use of tobacco also received state-wide approval from the governor. Advocates lauded the development which they have been lobbying for years to steer the youth from nicotine addiction and its dire consequences.
"[These laws] will save countless lives, reduce astronomical costs to the health care system, and cost very little because it uses existing enforcement mechanisms," said State Senator and bill author Ed Hernandez as quoted by CNN.
"Today was an enormous victory for not only this generation, but also for many generations to come who will not suffer the deadly impacts of tobacco."
On the other hand, the governor refused to approve a bill that would have allowed citizens to decide (through vote) on local taxes aimed at funding healthcare expenses for people diagnosed with tobacco-related diseases.
"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," Brown stated explaining his veto against the said bill proposed by Democratic Assemblyman Richard Bloom, LA Times reported.
The Institute of Medicine revealed in their study, at the request of US Food and Drug Administration, 90% of daily smokers started smoking before 19. Furthermore, raising the smoking age to 21 would drastically discourage 15% of within the 18-20 age bracket from forming tobacco habit as mentioned in a Business Insider report
Once the law gets implemented, anyone caught selling or distributing tobacco and other related products to people under the age of 21 could be convicted of a misdemeanor offense.
To date, California and Hawaii are the first two states with a state-wide law on raising the legal smoking age. Other states have tried the same. Anti-smoking advocates in New York tried the same but was narrowly defeated after their campaign were heavily outspent by America's large tobacco firms.