California's Legal Smoking Age Is Now 21


California Has Raised Its Legal Smoking Age From 18 to 21


On Wednesday May 4 Governor Jerry Brown signed a package of bills that will raise the legal smoking age in California from 18 to 21, reports CNN. The bills, labeled SBX2-7 also restricts the use of e-cigarettes in public areas where smoking is already banned and has expanded the no-smoking areas at public schools.

Read SBX2-7 Bill Text

“The governor’s signature on Tobacco 21 is a signal that California presents a united front against Big Tobacco,” Senator Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina), author of Tobacco 21 stated. “Together, we stand to disrupt the chain of adolescent addiction.”

After several objections from fellow lawmakers who objected that 18 year olds can choose to join the military but would be banned from smoking, Senator Hernandez edited his bill to exempt people currently serving in the military.

The pack of bills was backed by a coalition of medical groups that include the American Lung Association, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society and the California Medical Association. The package of bills has been referred to as the “most expansive” effort to control the use of tobacco in California in over a decade.


Current Legal Smoking Age In Each State




The Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association (SFATA), a strong proponent of the vaping industry, criticized Governor Brown’s actions. Stating that grouping vapor products with tobacco products was a counterproductive step for the health of California’s citizens.

“California took a step backwards today by reclassifying vapor products as tobacco,” SFATA said in a statement. “Stigmatizing vapor products, which contain no tobacco, and treating them the same as combustible tobacco while actively seeking to economically penalize smokers attempting to switch is counterproductive to public health.”

The legislation was approved during a special session on healthcare and will come into effect on June 9, 2016—much sooner than other bills, which normally come into effect on January 1, 2017.

Governor Brown’s signature makes California the second state in America to raise their tobacco age to 21 years old, right behind Hawaii.

Read: Hawaii Becomes the First State to Raise the Legal Smoking Age to 21


The Package of Bills Will Also:

  • Raise the licensing fee for tobacco vendors from a one-time $100 charge per retail location to $265 yearly. It will also boost the annual fee for wholesalers and distributors from $1,000 to $1,200 in order to cover the state’s enforcement costs.
  • Expand the no-smoking areas of public school and charter school facilities and offices.
  • Expand the smoking ban to include gambling clubs, motel lobbies, warehouses, covered parking lots and other public areas that were left out of the existing smoking ban.