SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A California Senate committee on Wednesday approved a package of six anti-tobacco bills.
According to California Healthline, the legislation includes:
- SBX2-5/ABX2-6, which would add e-cigarettes to the existing definition of tobacco products.
- SBX2-6/ABX2-7, which would add hotel lobbies, small businesses, break rooms and tobacco retailers to the list of smoke-free workplaces under state law.
- SBX2-7/ABX2-8, which would increase the minimum age for purchasing tobacco products to 21 years old.
- SBX2-8/ABX2-9, which would require all schools in the state to be tobacco-free.
- SBX2-9/ABX2-10, which would allow local jurisdictions across the state to tax tobacco.
- SBX2-10/ABX2-11, which would create an annual Board of Equalization tobacco licensing fee program.
Both the age increase and e-cigarette bills had stalled in the state legislature, but were revived for a special session on healthcare and approved by a new Senate Committee on Public Health & Developmental Services, said a report in The Los Angeles Times.
State Senator Mark Leno (D) proposed the measure that would designate e-cigarettes or vaping devices as tobacco products subject to the same restrictions on public use as traditional, combustible cigarettes. The bill also allows sting operations to catch retailers who sell vaping devices to minors and requires child-resistant packaging, the report said.
The Smoke Free Alternative Trade Association (SFATA) opposed the measure as an attack on a product that it said has helped some smokers quite traditional cigarettes.
“We believe vapor products are technology products, not tobacco products and are opposed to equating the two,” the SFSATA said in a press statement reacting to the legislation. “Vapor products contain zero tobacco. They have quickly created a new industry that provides thousands of jobs in California, millions of dollars in revenue and, most importantly, the potential to reduce the public harms caused by smoking.”
It continued, “Vapor technology provides an alternative for those seeking a path away from smoking. Instead of demonizing these products, and placing economic burdens on small businesses, which are at the heart of the industry, public policy should be focused on encouraging smokers to make the switch to vapor.
“While our opponents continue to cite underage usage fueled by candy-themed e-liquid flavors, several studies conclude that the variance in flavors are ‘very important’ in people’s efforts to switch to vapor products. While underage use is very concerning, it is vital that parents and guardians talk to their children about not using age-restricted products, including vapor products.
“The vapor industry continues to support sensible regulation, such as prohibitions on selling to minors, reasonable licensing requirements and child-resistant packaging. We will continue to work with California legislators and regulators to distinguish vaping from smoking so that appropriate regulations can be implemented which will allow California to enjoy the benefits of vapor as an alternative to smoking.”