According to the California Department of Public Health, 13.8% of high school students in California smoke cigarettes. SB 151 is a bill that was created by Senator Ed Hernandez and was passed June 2nd of this year to raise the legal smoking age to 21 in California. If signed into law by the governor, California would be the first state to raise the smoking age to 21. The bill passed 26 to 8.
Politicians believe that if the smoking age is raised then less young people will smoke cigarettes. The California Department of Public Health wants to bring the smoking rate down to about 12% by 2020.
Between 2010 and 2013 over 36,000 people in the state of California died from the health effects related to smoking. The deaths caused California to pay for higher medical expenses.
In 2014, there were only two laws that concern smoking which were signed into law in Sacramento. One is the Assembly Bill 1819 that prohibits smoking around children in designated areas. The second bill is Assembly Bill 2359 that states smokers have to be 25 feet away from farmers markets due to families trying to be healthy.
“I think that smoking is terrible because of how harmful it is and because I have family members who smoke so I see the effect,” said Lilli Mercado, a 16-year-old Sacramento resident who lives with family members that use tobacco products.
The next step for this bill is making it a law in California.
There are several organizations that are working to make people stop smoking. For example, the American Lung Association is partnering up with the California Department of Public Health to start a Healthy Campaign. The American Lung Association is also working on increasing the tax on cigarettes.