California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a bill on Wednesday that raises the state's smoking age to 21, from 18.
"The governor's signature on Tobacco 21 is a signal that California presents a united front against Big Tobacco," state Sen. Ed Hernandez (D) said in a statement. "Together, we stand to disrupt the chain of adolescent addiction." Brown also signed a bill that restricts the use of e-cigarettes in public spaces. California is now the second U.S. state to raise the smoking age to 21, after Hawaii. Active military members are exempt from the law.
The bills were backed by the American Heart Association, American Lung Association, and American Cancer Society, and will become effective on June 9. The National Survey on Drug Use and and Health reports that 90 percent of tobacco users start smoking before the age of 21 and 80 percent try it before 18, and a 2015 Institute of Medicine study estimates that by making 21 the legal age to buy tobacco, there will be 200,000 fewer early deaths for people born between 2000 and 2019. Before the bills were signed, the tobacco industry threatened to seek a referendum vote to overturn them, the Los Angeles Times reports.