The legal minimum smoking age would increase from 18 to 21 under a bill introduced today in the California legislature. If the bill becomes law California would be the first state in the nation to raise its minimum smoking age to 21.
The goal is to keep tobacco products out of the hands of teenagers. Democratic Senator Ed Hernandez of West Covina introduced the bill. He says cigarettes are the single most dangerous consumer product on the market. The American Lung Association in California says nine in ten smokers take up the habit by the age of 18, and 36,000 California kids start smoking each year. Similar proposals have previously failed in Maryland, Utah, Colorado and New Jersey. The bill would not apply to e-cigarettes.