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    New Bill Introduced To Ban All Tobacco Products To Those Born After 2007

    By Evan Symon

    AB 935 is modeled on a similar New Zealand law

    A bill to ban all tobacco sales to those born after 2007, resulting in the eventual total phase out of tobacco sales in the state in the coming decade, was introduced in the Assembly on Tuesday.

    Assembly Bill 935, authored by Assemblyman Damon Connolly (D-San Rafael), would specifically implement a phased tobacco ban by prohibiting a tobacco retailer from selling tobacco products to any person born on or after January 1, 2007. While sales would be legal for anyone born before the cutoff date, the 21-years-old restriction would eventually be replaced by this law. For example, in 2029, only those 22 and older would be able to purchase tobacco, and in 2040, only those 33 years and older.  The bill would also provide penalties for violations, including escalating civil fines and the suspension or revocation of the sellers license to sell tobacco products.

    Assemblyman Connolly wrote the bill as a measure to improve public health, as well as the health of the next generations in California. Connolly also noted that the bill was similar to laws passed in New Zealand, which set a tobacco ban for all born after 2009, and Norway, which has a proposed ban for anyone born after 2000.

    “Preventing the next generation of Californians from becoming addicted to smoking should be a priority for anyone who cares about the public health of our state and the well-being of our children,” said Assemblyman Connolly to the Globe on Wednesday. “AB 935 is a measured solution to address the widespread issue of youth tobacco addiction. The bill selectively prohibits those born after January 1st, 2007 from purchasing tobacco products, similar to recent laws passed in New Zealand and Norway. To be clear—this bill will not affect anyone who is currently of legal age and able to purchase tobacco products and will not punish individuals for simply using or possessing these items. By slowing phasing out the use of these harmful products, we can ensure that the next generation children in California do not get addicted to smoking.”

    A tobacco sales ban bill for those born after 2007

    While no lawmakers have come out in opposition to the bill, some tobacco companies and retailers have. In statements made on Wednesday, they noted that the bill would restrict the rights of smokers from using legal products and that AB 935 is not based on any scientific evidence.

    “We are deeply concerned about AB 935 and any legislation that seeks to restrict the rights of premium cigar smokers,” said Joshua Habursky, deputy executive director of the Premium Cigar Association, on Wednesday. “These proposals are not based on scientific evidence, but rather on a political agenda that seeks to demonize adult cigar smokers and restrict their freedom to enjoy a legal product. Clearly it is no longer a hidden agenda of the anti-tobacco groups to support full prohibition.”

    Others have taken a more nuanced view, saying that while it is well known that using tobacco products are bad for peoples health and that it is still considered one of the largest public health crises out there, it is also still a legal product in the country and that use itself isn’t covered under the bill, meaning that older Californians can still buy for those 21 and older or that they can buy out of state.

    “AB 935 is careful to only ban the sales and not usage,” explained Richard Groome, a tobacco use researcher, to the Globe on Wednesday. “Even if this is passed, and it’s a longshot, it will be very hard to control. People can still buy out of state, so it might gain this mystique, plus older people can still buy. It might become way more niche as a result, but it also won’t fully go away. Just the easiest option to buy would.”

    “For this to pass, it will also have to get past the fact that smoking in California has been declining rapidly since the 1980s. Between 1988 and 2017, smoking amongst adults fell by 57%. Only about 8.8% of Californian adults still smoke, and that number is expected to go down further in the coming years. It’s already declining quickly, so that may add another point of contention here.

    Click here to read the full article in the California Globe


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