SACRAMENTO – Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, has signed five laws that increase California’s minimum age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21, regulate electronic cigarettes and restrict tobacco use in various other ways.
Here are some things to know about the new tobacco laws:
The 21-to-buy restriction and rules limiting where people can vape apply to everyone in the state of California except military personnel with an identification card. The bill stalled for six months while veterans’ organizations and Republican lawmakers fought to include the exemption. The new laws take effect on June 9.
NOT THE FIRST
In April, Hawaii became the first state in the nation to raise the legal age to 21. More than 100 local jurisdictions around the country also have made the change, including New York, Chicago and San Francisco.
WHO OPPOSES IT?
Tobacco companies have fought for years to restrict sales, which could result in millions of dollars in lost revenue, but they have kept a low profile during the public debate this year. Electronic cigarette companies, which have a growing market, also opposed the legislation. Some activists see e-cigarettes as a path to quit smoking traditional cigarettes and oppose the state’s move to classify vapor paraphernalia as tobacco products.
CAN IT BE BLOCKED?
Yes, though it’s unlikely. Tobacco companies and their allies have considered a referendum campaign in which they’d ask voters to overturn some or all of the laws. But they have a narrow window until Aug 2 to file a petition with the state, get it approved, gather 366,000 valid signatures and turn them in to county clerks. If they get enough valid signatures, voters would decide in November. It would also be costly. Signature-gatherers are currently charging campaigns up to $5.50 per signature.
ARE E-CIGS ILLEGAL?
No. Vaporizers, vape liquid and other electronic smoking paraphernalia are now considered tobacco products under California law. That means, like traditional tobacco products, e-cigarettes will be prohibited in many spaces like workplaces, restaurants, bars and movie theaters.
Effective August 8, 2016, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandates electronic cigarettes products to be regulated as tobacco products. The FDA rule also bans sales to minors. The FDA classified e-cigarettes as drug delivery devices and subject to regulation under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) before importation and sale in the US.
Vaping is steadily being regulated across the US. Some state and regional governments in the US had extended their indoor smoking bans to include e-cigarettes. As of April 2017, 12 US states and 615 localities had prohibited the use of e-cigarettes in venues in which traditional cigarette smoking was prohibited. High schools and some middle schools throughout the US have been revising their tobacco rules to ban vaping on school grounds.
A review of regulations in 40 US states found that how a law defines e-cigarettes is critical, with some definitions allowing e-cigarettes to avoid smoke-free laws, taxation, and restrictions on sales and marketing. The tobacco industry heavily lobbies states to make it harder to regulate and tax e-cigarettes.