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New California Tobacco Laws: Sales Age Raised To 21

CALIFORNIA — The minimum age of sale for tobacco products in California increased from 18 to 21, effective June 9, 2016. And for the first time, e-cigarettes are now included in the existing definition of tobacco products statewide.

California is the second state in the nation, following Hawaii, to raise the minimum age for tobacco sales to 21.

“Today marks a significant moment in California history as new tobacco control laws go into effect statewide,” said Dr. Karen Smith, California Department of Public Health (CDPH) director and state health officer in a June 9th press conference. “This is the first time the Golden State has raised the age of sale for tobacco since the law first took effect 144 years ago.”

California’s approximately 35,000 tobacco retailers, including vape shops, must comply with the new Tobacco 21 law, and ensure they sell tobacco products — including e-cigarettes — only to people age 21 and over.

Approximately 217,000 California youth between the ages of 12 and 17 currently smoke traditional cigarettes or e-cigarettes. Research also shows that teens who vape are three times more likely to start smoking in a year. The law allows for one exemption — active duty military personnel in the U.S. Armed Forces who are at least 18 years of age.

According to the 2011-2013 “California Healthy Kids Survey” of Mariposa County High School students, 27 percent of 11th graders reported having used a cigarette in their lifetime, and 8.5 percent of 11th graders had smoked a cigarette in the past 30 days.

State law now reflects Mariposa County’s Smoking and Tobacco Use Ordinance in defining e-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), such as vaping devices, as tobacco products. These products are also not allowed in locations where smoking is prohibited, including public transit, work sites, restaurants, schools and all County parks.

“The new Tobacco 21 law is a life saving measure in our state where 34,000 people still die from tobacco-related diseases every year,” says the Mariposa County Health Department. “Delaying the age when youth first use tobacco is one of the most promising ways to prevent future cigarette smokers – and it positively affects the public health of our community.”

Help with quitting is available by calling the California Smokers’ Helpline: 1-800-NO-BUTTS, and at www.nobutts.org.

For more information, contact the Mariposa County Health Department Tobacco Education Program at (209) 966-3689 or visit the program website at www.mariposacounty.org/tobaccoeducation

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