Must be 21 – New tobacco laws take effect Thursday

Inyo County Health and Human Services press release

Joining the State of Hawaii and 188 other U.S. municipalities, California passed a new law to increase the age of tobacco purchase to age 21, which takes effect, along with other new tobacco laws, this week, on June 9th.


According to the new laws, retailers can sell tobacco products or paraphernalia only to individuals who are at least 21 years old. The laws that apply to the sale of traditional tobacco products also apply to the sale of electronic smoking devices like e-cigarettes. The laws require that tobacco retail outlets post an Age-of-Sale warning sign and check ID, and retailers cannot have self-service displays of tobacco products or paraphernalia (including electronic smoking devices).

Senate Bill 7 X2, which increases the minimum smoking age with the exception of active duty military, is intended to decrease youth tobacco addiction. Ninety percent of current and former smokers began smoking before the age of 21. A 15- to 17-year-old is less likely to know a 21-year-old than an 18-year-old who will buy cigarettes for them.

The 2015 California Youth Tobacco Purchase Survey found that tobacco sales to minors at retail outlets occurred at a rate of 7.6 percent statewide. Since the minor’s ID is already in portrait and marked with a red stripe for alcohol purchases, the sales clerks will not need to do the math with the new law in effect to determine the age of the customer.

Senate Bill 5 X2 defines and regulates e-cigarettes and other vaporized liquids as tobacco products. The definition of “tobacco product” is expanded to include any electronic smoking device or any component, part, or accessory, including cartridges and solutions, whether or not they contain nicotine, or whether sold separately. Because the definition of tobacco product is expanded, electronic smoking devices are now included in all of the State’s no smoking laws.

In addition, as of October 1, 2016, all electronic smoking device cartridges and solutions used for filling or refilling devices must be sold in child-resistant packaging that meets federal poison prevention standards.

Other public health laws signed by Governor Brown this spring include Assembly Bill 7 X2, which closes loopholes in the state’s smoke-free laws, and Assembly Bill 9 X2, which requires all California school properties to be tobacco-free zones. Both Inyo and Mono schools have been tobacco-free zones since the 1990’s.

Currently in California, the license to sell tobacco is a one-time fee. Assembly Bill 11 X2 increases tobacco licensing fees and requires annual renewal to cover the cost of administering and enforcing the licensing program. The new licensing requirements, which now also apply to any retailer that sells electronic smoking devices, will take effect January 1, 2017.

One bill not signed by Governor Brown is AB 10 X2, which would have allowed county boards of supervisors to impose local tobacco tax increases.

Retailers throughout California are preparing to comply with the new law this week. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) finalized signage for stores reflecting the Tobacco 21 Law and launched a webpage with information on the new laws. The webpage is Retailers can download and print signage from the website, and CDPH will be sending retailers packets of signs in the mail this month.


Information for retailers on the Tobacco 21 Law:

Tobacco prevention and cessation information: April Eagan at Inyo County Health & Human Services, Public Health & Prevention Division, at [email protected] or 760-872-0900

California Smokers’ Helpline: 1-800-NO-BUTTS



12 Responses to Must be 21 – New tobacco laws take effect Thursday

  1. Trouble June 14, 2016 at 8:10 pm #

    How is making a person whol smokes a criminal, going to help them stop ?

  2. Trouble June 14, 2016 at 8:06 pm #

    I love our legal systems way of thinking. It’s like our school system. If a kid struggles with school work , but excels in sports, what do they do? Take away what they excel at. What good comes from that? What good comes from this joke of a law?

  3. and again June 13, 2016 at 12:08 pm #

    I agree that smoking is stupid BUUUT. How can we say a person is old enough to serve in the armed forces, is old enough to vote, is old enough to move out and live on your own all at the age of 18, but by golly you better not smoke a cigarette. COMPLETE waste of time and money

    • Tinner June 15, 2016 at 1:54 pm #

      and again, read the first sentence of the third paragraph in this article one more time.
      I agree with you that this is a waste of money, I’d rather we concentrated on enforcing the existing law that prohibits within smoking 20 feet of any business.

  4. MJA June 11, 2016 at 5:55 am #

    Must be stupid to smoke. =

  5. Rick O'Brien June 10, 2016 at 5:15 pm #

    I remember driving past Rusty’s in Bishop on New Years day (night) when it was 24 degrees and there they were….all the smokers huddling together outside the front door, like soldiers in a foxhole, freezing their butts off ! I damn near rear-ended the car in front of me, LMAO, for real !

  6. Tinner June 9, 2016 at 4:08 pm #

    Too bad we can’t teach all smokers to stand downwind of gatherings of people such as at dining establishments and/or downwind of business entrances and exits, too bad we can’t teach smokers that it’s not okay to exhale that last drag inside of a business after standing just barely outside and smoking one of those disgusting things, too bad some smokers have so little respect for anyone else’s health and care only about themselves and their own personal needs and addiction.
    There is a law in California that is supposed to protect non smokers in public ares from second hand smoke but it seems that they are rarely enforced and/or current smokers are still unaware of the law or just don’t care. I’m leaning towards they just don’t care, either that of they can’t read since they often stand directly in front of signs that restrict smoking in the area in which they are smoking.
    I do feel for the children of smokers, they really don’t stand a chance to grow up and not turning into a smoker: they’re smokers before they start smoking. Maybe they’re should be a law against that.

  7. sugarmagnolia June 9, 2016 at 9:42 am #

    Just wondering, what are current smokers supposed to do who have legally been smoking, but now aren’t old enough to smoke?

    Don’t get me wrong, I hate smoking. But if were going to outlaw it for some who have been legally smoking already, why not make it illegal for all people? Why pick on a few?

    Seems like the State should have to pay for smoking cessation help for people who fall into this category.

  8. Trouble June 8, 2016 at 8:29 pm #

    Their they go again. Making laws that if enforced would put over half our nation in our great legal system.

    • Low Inyo June 10, 2016 at 11:42 am #

      Trouble…..The new law is to prohibit PURCHASE of tobacco products to 18-20 year olds… you really think Law Enforcement is going todrive around and check ID’s and arrest those that are underage and happen to be seen and “caught” smoking ?….maybe at the same time they’re going street-to-street,door-to-door and taking “everyone’s guns away”…..come !!

    • Charles O. Jones June 12, 2016 at 12:10 pm #

      Over half????
      According to the CA Dept. of Public Health, 13 out of every 100 Californians smoke. The remaining 87 are apparently smart enough to know better. Nationwide the number is 17 out of 100. Not sure how you came up with your “over half” conclusion.

      • Trouble June 14, 2016 at 2:26 pm #

        Charles, I don’t know where you grew up. But I would bet it’s a lot hire then half have tried smoking something before they are 21. Which half are you?
        My point is, all these silly laws are useless .


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