Photo courtesy Flickr user Valentin.Ottone.

Press release from Assemblymember Jim Wood’s office:

Today the California Assembly approved a bill that would raise the minimum smoking age in California from 18 to 21. Senate Bill (SB) 2X-7 is part of the Second Extraordinary Session called by the Governor in June 2015 and represents a merger of Assemblyman Jim Wood’s (D-Healdsburg) Assembly Bill (AB) 2X-8 and Senator Ed Hernández’s (D-West Covina) SB 2X-7. Assemblyman Wood is now the principle co-author of the bill that will head to the Governor’s desk.

Assemblyman Wood said, “It’s estimated that 90% of all smokers start before the age of 21. Fewer smokers means healthier people, healthier people means we spend less money on healthcare. The only loser in this equation is the tobacco companies, and in my opinion, they have won for long enough.”

The parts of an adolescent’s brain responsible for decision making and impulse control are not fully developed at age 18 causing young brains to be highly susceptible to the addictive properties of nicotine. This bill, authored by two healthcare providers in the legislature, recognizes this phenomenon and helps protect young people from a potential lifetime of addiction

The University of California, San Francisco recently published a study estimating that Californian’s spend over $9.8 billion treating the effects of tobacco use every year, roughly $3.5billion of which is billed directly to Medi-Cal.

Assemblymember Wood served as Mayor when the City of Healdsburg became the first city in the state to pass a ban on the sale of tobacco products to anyone under 21 years old. 

“As a healthcare provider I see first-hand the devastating effects of tobacco use. I have worked on policy to reduce tobacco consumption my whole life, I am so grateful to my colleagues who stood up, did the right thing, and helped make this happen,” said Assemblyman Wood.

In July of 2015 the Center for Disease Control released a study indicating that 75% of adults support raising the minimum age to 21, including 70% of current smokers. 

SB 2X-7 will now go to the Senate for a vote this afternoon.