California State Lawmakers Vote to Raise Smoking Age to 21, Regulate Electronic Cigarettes

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Rhiannon Griffith-Bowman smokes an e-cigarette at Digital Ciggz on Jan. 28, 2015, in San Rafael, California. (Credit: Getty Images)

The state Senate on Thursday gave final legislative approval to bills that would regulate electronic cigarettes and raise the smoking age to 21 in California, sending them to Gov. Jerry Brown for consideration.

Supporters of additional tobacco controls used the special session to advance bills that had bogged down during a regular session, moving them through new committees not controlled by opponents. The bills were approved last week by the Assembly. Most Republicans voted against both bills.

The bill on electronic cigarettes bans their use in restaurants, theaters and other public places where traditional smoking is already prohibited. Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, said his bill also significantly prohibits marketing the devices to minors.

Sen. Jeff Stone, R-Murietta, said there is concern that electronic cigarettes serve as a “gateway” to the use of regular cigarettes, especially for teenagers. “For the first time, more teenagers use e-cigarettes than cigarettes,” Stone said.

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