The California Senate approved legislation this week that would raise the legal age for purchasing cigarettes to 21.
Democratic state Sen. Ed Hernandez, who introduced the bill, said he did it to help reduce the number of young people who smoke. According to reports, an estimated 90 percent of smokers and tobacco consumers start before the age of 21.
“It’s time to stop allowing tobacco companies to make the deadly product so readily available to our youth,” he said. The bill attracted support from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Cancer Society Action Network and the California Medical Association.
Hernandez, an optometrist, cited in his arguments a study conducted by the Institute of Medicine for the FDA that said raising the smoking age would reduce tobacco consumption by 12 percent more than the existing regulations.
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The Senate passed the legislation in a 26 to 8 vote; it now heads to the Assembly for a vote.