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California

Recent updates!

During the 2020 legislative session, statewide and local focus has been on banning the sales of flavored tobacco products, including menthol.

On June 9, 2016, California became the second state to pass a statewide Tobacco 21 law!

The Tobacco momentum in California started in 2014 when Healdsburg, CA became the first city in the state to raise its tobacco sales age to 21. The council members of Healdsburg deserve recognition for their bold step. This positive step sparked movement at the state level. On January 30, 2015, Senator Ed Hernandez introduced Senate Bill 151, which would raise the tobacco age to 21. Senator Hernandez is an optometrist with a long history of advocating for progressive health-related policies in California. During this time many other municipalities were passing their own Tobacco 21 ordinances. The state bill then passed committee, house, senate, and was signed into law by Governor Brown in 2016, making California the second state to adopt Tobacco 21!

California has well below national average rates of both adult smoking and high school smoking. However, due to their high population, the result is still an alarming number of deaths due to tobacco use. An estimated 441,000 children now under the age of 18 will eventually die early due to smoking, with 10,900 children becoming daily smokers each year. The result is an annual health care cost of $13.29 billion that is directly caused by smoking. We expect these numbers to continually decline, now that the minimum legal sales age for all tobacco products in California is 21.

The state spends 96.8% of the CDC recommended amount on tobacco prevention, with recent large increases in funding. The effects of Tobacco 21 in California are being tracked for future results and evaluation.

Recent Updates

  • 5/4/2016SBx2-7 is signed by Governor Brown into law, making California the second Tobacco 21 state!

  • 3/10/2016 – Amended SBx2-7 passes Senate concurrence vote by 26-10 margin, bill moves to Governor's desk

  • 3/3/2016 – In a historic vote, the California Assembly approves amended ABx2-8 by 46-26 margin. The bill will now go to the Senate for a procedural vote before going to Governor Brown.

  • 3/2/2016 – San Francisco becomes 4th municipality in state to raise tobacco age to 21, says it welcomes a challenge from Big Tobacco

  • 1/25/2016 – Berkeley raises tobacco age to 21, becomes second city in the state to do so

  • 9/8/2015ABx2-8 passes Assembly Finance Committee, moves to Assembly floor

  • 8/27/2015SBx2-7 passes Senate by 25-11 margin, moves on to Assembly as ABx2-8

  • 8/24/2015SBx2-7 passes through Senate Public Appropriations Committee, moves on to Senate floor

  • 8/19/2015SBx2-7 passes through Senate Public Health Committee, moves on to Appropriations Committee

  • 7/16/2015 – Senate Bill 151 removed from consideration of Governmental Organization Committee due to pervasive influence of Big Tobacco money/lobbying, re-introduced as SBx2-7 to be considered at California's Second Extraordinary Session along with a package of other tobacco prevention measures.

  • 6/18/2015Senate Bill 151 referred to Governmental Organization Committee

  • 6/2/2015Senate Bill 151 overwhelmingly passes Senate, moves on to Assembly

  • 5/28/2015Senate Bill 151 passes Appropriations committee, moves to full vote in Senate

  • 4/9/2015Senate Bill 151 passes through Committee on Health 9-0, moves on to Appropriations Committee

  • 2/19/2015Senate Bill 151 referred to Committee on Health

  • 1/29/2015 – Statewide Tobacco 21, Senate Bill 151, sponsored by Ed Hernandez introduced

  • 12/4/2014 – Healdsburg passes first Tobacco 21 Ordinance in the state

Show All Updates

For More Information, Please Contact:

Local Partners:

  • Annie Tegen
  • Director, Western Region
  • Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids
  • ategen@tobaccofreekids.org
  • California Tobacco 21 Local Partner
  • Jodi Hicks
  • Jodi Hicks
  • Legislative & Regulatory Advocacy and Procurement
  • mailto:JHicks@lawpolicy.com
  • California Tobacco 21 Local Partner
  • Brett Michelin
  • VP — Political Operations
  • California Medical Association
  • Bmichelin@Cmanet.Org
  • California Tobacco 21 Local Partner
  • Brad Drexler, MD
  • Longtime supporter of tobacco control in California, former CMA delegate, Healdsburg advocate
  • Obstetrician/Gynecologist
  • B9drexler@Gmail.Com
  • California Tobacco 21 Local Partner

Other Helpful Resources:

Tobacco Free Kids California

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is a leading force in the fight to reduce tobacco use and its deadly toll in the United States and around the world. Our vision: A future free of the death and disease caused by tobacco.

State Of Tobacco Control California

SLATI (State Legislated Actions on Tobacco Issues) is an extensively researched and invaluable source of information on tobacco control laws and policy, and is the only up-to-date and comprehensive summary of state tobacco control laws.

SLATI State Information California

SLATI (State Legislated Actions on Tobacco Issues) is an extensively researched and invaluable source of information on tobacco control laws and policy, and is the only up-to-date and comprehensive summary of state tobacco control laws.


The Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation and the Campaign For Tobacco Free Kids support these four principles for Tobacco 21 ordinances:

  1. Include all tobacco and nicotine products, specifically e-cigarettes. The only exceptions would be FDA recognized nicotine replacement products (gum, patch, etc.) intended for cessation.
  2. Include significant enforcement provisions against illegal sales as research shows that consistent enforcement is of critical importance.
  3. Not include any pre-emption against local authority in more stringent regulation of tobacco or other nicotine product sales, secondhand smoke, or e-cigarette vapor.
  4. Ideally not include possession, usage, or purchase (PUP) penalties that result in criminal records, and instead place the onus on the purveyors of these addictive products.

We welcome your comments and suggestions: Contact Us