California lawmakers back smoking age of 21

(AP Photo)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on California lawmakers voting to raise the smoking age to 21 (all times local):

10 a.m.

California lawmakers have voted to make the nation’s most populous state the second to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21.

Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown still must sign off on the legislation approved Thursday that makes California the first state after Hawaii with the higher age limit. His spokesman said last week that the governor generally does not comment on pending legislation.

The change is part of a sweeping package of anti-smoking measures that aims to crack down on tobacco use and the health problems it causes.

The bills also restrict electronic cigarettes the same as tobacco products. The increasingly popular devices are not regulated by the federal government.

The higher age limit got approved despite intense lobbying from tobacco interests and fierce opposition from many Republicans.

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11:50 p.m.

California’s Senate is poised to vote on a sweeping package of anti-smoking measures_including raising the smoking age to 21— as lawmakers try to crack down on tobacco use and the health problems that flow from it.

If the Senate approves Thursday and Gov. Jerry Brown signs off, California would become the second state to move the age to buy cigarettes from 18 to 21. Electronic cigarettes would also face the same restrictions as tobacco products, and smoke-free zones would expand to more workplaces and schools.

The American Cancer Society says the six bills represent California’s most substantial anti-tobacco push in nearly two decades. But advocates couldn’t garner enough support to raise cigarette taxes, which requires a two-thirds supermajority. The Cancer Society and other groups are seeking to qualify an initiative for the 2016 ballot.

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