Tobacco bills reintroduced for California’s special session

Tobacco bills reintroduced for California’s special session

California Democratic lawmakers on Thursday reintroduced a package of tobacco regulation bills that stalled in the state Legislature earlier this month.

Reintroducing the package, the lawmakers announced that six tobacco-related bills should be considered during the Legislature's special session on health care financing when legislators would return from a summer break in August.

The major proposals in the package seek to treat e-cigarettes as tobacco products as well as to hike the legal minimum age of smoking to 21 years. In the previous attempt, the proposals failed to advance out the Assembly Committee on Governmental Organization due to tough opposition from tobacco companies.

Other proposals include enabling local governments to tax tobacco products and expansion of smoke-free workplace laws.

Legislative Republicans are apparently hesitant to support new restrictions that could represent a government overreach. Speaking on behalf of Assembly Republicans, Amanda Fulkerson said, "We'd be interested in ensuring any time we're changing laws there is an actual, direct impact on public health."

Supporters, including the American Heart Association (AHA), American Lung Association (ALA) and California Medical Association (CMA), are supporting the package, saying stricter tobacco laws will eventually save health care costs.

Democratic leaders, who dominate both houses of the California Legislature, issued statements of support for the package. But Republican leaders have expressed reluctance, while Gov. Jerry Brown hasn't yet weighed in on the issue.

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