California is likely to become the second state where individuals must be 21 to purchase tobacco products.
Today, a special session on healthcare in the California advanced five bills, including the age increase and language that would classify e-cigarettes as tobacco products.
The five that advanced are:
- S.B.X2 5 — Would classify e-cigarettes and vaping devices as “tobacco products.”
- S.B.X2 6 — Would extend the smoking ban to most businesses with more than five employees.
- S.B.X2 7 — Would increase the minimum age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21.
- S.B.X2 8 — Would promote tobacco-free policies and education programs at schools.
- S.B.X2 9 — Would allow for local governments to impose additional taxes on tobacco products.
While a cigar store exemption exists in the smoking ban, a move to allow those serving in the military to purchase tobacco even if they are under 21 was not included according to one source.
One bill that did not pass was A.B.X2 16, a measure that would raise the tax on cigarettes from 87 cents to $2 per pack.
Because California sets the tobacco tax for other products based on the rate it taxes cigarettes, this increase would have meant that the state tax on cigars would jump from around 30 percent to 65 percent of the wholesale price.
While the bill died, it’s likely that Californians will get to vote on the measure as a ballot innovative this November.
As for the bills that moved forward, they will face a vote in the California senate next week, where all are expected to pass. From there they head to the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown.
Some sources have told halfwheel that Brown and others chief concern is the tax increase. A possibility remains that a deal could be brokered that would see a more moderate tax increase in exchange for concessions on some of the rules passed in the six bills.