It's Official: You Need to Be 21+ to Smoke and Vape in California

It's Official: You Need to Be 21+ to Smoke and Vape in California
File photo by Heath Alseike/Flickr

Before you light up that next smoke, check your ID.

If you're not yet 21, you're probably  breaking the law.

A California bill that outlaws purchasing tobacco for those younger than 21 was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown. Sen. Ed Hernandez of West Covina wrote the bill.

His office tells us it will go into effect June 9.

"It's going to reduce the number of young adults addicted to nicotine, it's going to save lives and it's going to reduce health care costs," the senator told us.

And before you scream that you can fight for your country but you can't light up, Hernandez is quick to say that you can light up if you're fighting for your country.

He included an exemption for military personnel.

The lawmaker said he faced a "huge battle" with the tobacco lobby but persevered. "I'm ecstatic and thankful the governor signed it," Hernandez said.

The onus of the law is placed on sellers. "Selling tobacco products to anyone under 21 years of age is illegal and subject to penalties," it says.

Separately, the office of San Francisco–based Sen. Mark Leno announced that "California will regulate electronic cigarettes just as it does all other tobacco products under legislation signed today by Gov. Jerry Brown."

Taken in the context of Hernandez's bill, that means you'll need to be 21 and older to vape, too.

"The e-cigarette is nothing more than a new delivery system for toxic and addictive nicotine," Leno said in a statement. "Ensuring that e-cigarettes fall under California’s comprehensive smoke-free laws is critical to protecting public health, especially given the alarming rate at which young people are picking up these devices."

Interestingly, no such age restrictions exist for medical marijuana.


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